Hospital still in bankruptcy

By BRENT MAZE,

Ascentium Healthcare Resources will be taking over the management of Lackey Memorial Hospital in Forest and businesses that were being managed by Pioneer Health Services.

However, it will not include the former Pioneer Community Hospital of Newton, according to Sydney Sawyer, chief executive of the newly formed Ascentium.

“There will be no change concerning Lackey-owned businesses,” Sawyer said. “I don’t know what Pioneer owned properties are in Newton County, but Ascentium only acquired the current business contracts owned by Pioneer. We did not acquire any real property.

“This does not include the Newton hospital facility. I do not know the status of that building.”

Pioneer Health Services, who still owes several years of unpaid property taxes to Newton County for the Newton hospital, still owns the property. Pioneer filed voluntary bankruptcy in March 2016 and has come under the direction of the Federal Court System.

After the closure of the Newton Hospital, Newton Family and Pediatric Clinic began operating under Pioneer’s management of Lackey Memorial Hospital.

Ascentium Healthcare Resources finalized the deal on Dec. 31 and opened for business on Tuesday, according to Sydney Sawyer, Chief Executive Officer for Lackey Hospital.  Ascentium will be a division of Lackey Hospital. The bid represented a cash bid for assets in the amount of $175,000, new contracts   and additional vendors.

The Federal Court System approved the acquisition in December.

Sawyer said he hopes the transition will appear seamless.

“The customers of Newton Family and Pediatric Clinic will not notice any changes at all,” Sawyer said.

“Ascentium Healthcare Resources will continue providing billing and collection services, accounting services, behavioral health resources and other rural hospital management services to  current Pioneer clients and to future Ascentium clients.”

Sawyer has served in the position as CEO for Lackey for the past two years.  Prior to that he served as director of nursing for Lackey for 15 years.  Lackey is a 25-bed critical access facility.  Pioneer has the expertise to help Lackey with collections as well as billing specializing in large healthcare governmental claims.

Sawyer said they will maintain as many existing accounts that Pioneer is servicing to include Tippah County as well as other accounts which they are currently working with.  This according to Sawyer is good for Lackey because it provides a needed service to their organization which would  have otherwise cost as much to start as it did to acquire.

Sawyer said they intended to stabilize the workforce, stating that it had been an unnerving process for everyone involved.  There goals included growing the billing and collecting side over the next year with a goal of adding two new client facilities which would allow them to grow the staff by approximately ten positions.

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