Hospital commission reaches $485,000 settlement with Allegiance
By Samantha Jones
The Eureka Springs Hospital Commission approved a $485,000 settlement agreement with Allegiance Health Management on Friday, Jan. 31.
Chairman John House said the commission's attorney, Megan Hargraves, has been working diligently to come to an agreement that works for everyone. Allegiance initially wanted the commission to write a check for more than $5 million, House said. Under the final agreement, he said, the commission will pay Allegiance $485,000 in return for all licenses, certifications and bank accounts to run the hospital starting Feb. 1.
"That is the amount we negotiated to terminate the lease," Hargraves said.
The commission is taking responsibility for $384,018 of debt, Hargraves said, in addition to the $485,000 payout. Hargraves said the commission will pay all hospital employees the value of their paid days off. It's not possible to transfer the paid days off from Allegiance to the commission, Hargraves said, so the commission is paying the employees for the days they saved up instead.
"We agreed to take that and pay that," Hargraves said. "They'll know it came from us."
The only additional expense to the commission, Hargraves said, is associated with taking over accounts payable. Hargraves said Darrell Parke, who helped the commission with the transition of ownership, is looking for a way for accounts payable to have the least impact on the commission's finances.
"There will be an expense," Hargraves said, "but that's what [Parke] and his team are going to be working on to try to negotiate the best deals with those vendors."
Allegiance will pay hospital employees through Jan. 31, House said, and that's when the commission takes over. Commissioner Barbara Dicks asked if Allegiance has agreed to leave the money in their bank accounts associated with the hospital and Hargraves said they would.
"Everything should transition to us tonight," Hargraves said.
"We're going to owe this to them in money, and we're taking over 300 sum-odd thousand dollars in debt," Dicks said. "My heart's beating real fast."
House reminded the commission that Allegiance originally asked for more than $5 million in the settlement.
"We got to a little more than three quarters of a million dollars," House said. "The money we have in the bank account is actually put there by Allegiance, so actually we're just going to give them some of their money back. It's not like we had to tax our citizens to get this money."
Dicks moved to approve the settlement agreement and the commission unanimously agreed to do so.
The commission's next regular meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. Monday, Feb. 17, at 25 Norris St. adjacent to the hospital.