The embattled Tennessee hospital bought by a Florida lab test company one year ago has closed.
Jamestown Regional Medical Center had been in a rapid downward spiral since its purchase by West Palm Beach, Fla.-based Rennova Health, culminating in the CMS revoking its Medicare billing privileges effective Wednesday.
Jamestown's mayor said the hospital officially shut its doors Thursday at 7 p.m. Central Time. A note on the hospital's door said it would reopen in two weeks, but Mayor Lyndon Baines said he's not holding his breath.
Baines said he's called and emailed Rennova's leadership, but has not heard back.
"It's very frustrating for me because I'm trying to do all I can do as a small-town mayor to try to keep this hospital going," Baines said. "To me, it doesn't feel like they're trying to help. I think they're worried more about a profit margin than the people."
If one of Jamestown's roughly 2,000 residents needs hospital care, they will have to travel 45 minutes to an hour to the nearest facilities in Cookeville, Crossville or Livingston.
The closure follows a monthslong saga of inspections into the hospital's operations, which turned up $4 million in unpaid bills, a critical lack of supplies and other issues.
Rennova CEO Seamus Lagan wrote in an email that Rennova is working with its legal team to get its Medicare billing privileges reinstated. He said the facility will only be closed for three to five days.
"We remain committed to the long-term provision of hospital services at Jamestown and regret even a temporary interruption in service but believe it is necessary to stop turmoil and unrecoverable expense," he wrote.
Baines, Fentress County Executive Jimmy Johnson and three state representatives whose district includes Fentress County met with Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee a week ago to discuss the hospital's fate, Baines said. A spokeswoman for Lee did not immediately return a request seeking comment.
Baines, who said he was suspicious of Rennova from the start, said he wants to make it so not just anyone can buy a hospital. He wants there to be a mandatory inspection into the would-be buyer's finances, structure and history before such a deal can close.
"It'd be like me going over here and I have a million dollars and I want to buy the hospital," he said.
When CHS sold the hospital to Rennova, the lab company had recently reported no cash on hand from operations and a $16 million operating loss on less than $5 million in revenue. It was being sued by landlords, contractors and former employees for unpaid bills and wages.
The Internal Revenue Service currently has a lien on the hospital property, Baines said. If it's auctioned off, Baines said he hopes someone else can buy and run the facility.
The 85-bed Jamestown hospital has been a pillar of the small Tennessee community for nearly 60 years. Franklin, Tenn.-based Community Health Systems bought the hospital in 2014 as part of its $3.9 billion purchase of Health Management Associates, which had owned it for 12 years.