Since January 2015, North Metro Medical Center in Jacksonville has been hit with $4 million worth of tax liens by the IRS and several lawsuits from vendors.
Other legal trouble involves the hospital’s former chief of staff, who accused the hospital’s owner, Allegiance Health Management Inc. of Shreveport, of breach of contract for allegedly retaliating against him.
Allegiance Health didn’t return calls for comment, nor did the hospital’s interim CEO, Undrea Ellis.
Allegiance Health also operates the Eureka Springs Hospital (see Allegiance Health Seeks Tax-Backed Infusion) and the River Valley Medical Center in Danville, but North Metro Medical is the only one that has numerous lawsuits filed against it by vendors who said they weren’t paid.
North Metro also was Allegiance’s worst-performing Arkansas hospital during during fiscal 2013-15. It reported a combined loss of $11.7 million on net patient revenue of $66.2 million.
The hospital also has seen a revolving door of administrators.
In 2015, Joe Farrer resigned as CEO of North Metro after only three months on the job. Farrer, a Republican serving his third term in the state House of Representatives, told Arkansas Business in 2015 that he wanted to fire Dr. Tracy Phillips after alcohol was found in the physician’s lounge that Phillips had used, but Allegiance CEO Rock Bordelon and its COO wanted to keep him.
So Farrer left. Phillips at the time denied any wrongdoing and disputed Farrer’s version of events. Phillips had said that he and Farrer had “butted heads” and Farrer wanted him gone.
Phillips, however, is at the center of Dr. Marvin Ashford’s lawsuit, filed in October in Pulaski County Circuit Court.
Ashford, a cardiologist, was the chief of staff and presided over the Department of Family Medicine and the Medical Executive Committee in late 2015. Ashford’s lawsuit says the committee voted not to renew Phillips’ medical privileges but doesn’t say what led to the decision.
“Allegiance management rejected the Committee’s findings and did not suspend Dr. Phillips,” the lawsuit said.
Instead, Ashford’s medical privileges were suspended at the hospital by the committee, which was then led by a new chief of staff. Ashford said the committee voted to suspend his privileges “in retaliation for the action taken against Dr. Phillips.”
Ashford said the hospital didn’t follow its own bylaws when he requested to have a hearing over the suspension but never received one.
Ashford is now working at CHI St. Vincent Heart Clinic in North Little Rock. He is seeking an unspecified amount of damages. Included as a defendant is Phillips, who in his court filings denied allegations of wrongdoing. Allegiance also denied any wrongdoing.