A small chain of rehabilitation and long-term acute-care hospitals in Louisiana has disappeared without a trace-except for the $8 million it owes HCFA.
Winward Institutes, which operated Winward hospitals in five towns, declared bankruptcy in Shreveport, La., its headquarters. But officials there declined to confirm that the company was shutting down operations, even though all patients were moved out of its hospitals on May 29.
The company had hospitals in Alexandria, Monroe, New Orleans, Pleasant Hill and Shreveport. But no one was answering the phones at any of the hospitals last week. Hospital employees were seen removing their personal belongings from the Monroe hospital in shopping carts. Vendors came by to haul away their machines and other property.
According to local news reports, all 144 full-time and part-time employees at the Monroe hospital were laid off without notice. Some employees said their paychecks had bounced, and many had not been paid in several weeks.
HCIA, a Baltimore-based healthcare information company, had no information on Winward hospitals in Louisiana.
David Wright, in HCFA's regional office in Dallas, said the state of Louisiana was notified May 29 of Winward's intent to close.
According to documents filed in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Shreveport, the company owes creditors at least $3 million, not including a repayment owed to HCFA. Wright said the company received almost $8 million more than it should have in fiscal 1997. Cost reports revealed the overpayment.
Part-owner Willie Singleton said he was hoping for a cash infusion from a buyer to help sustain the operation.
-With Associated Press