River Valley Medical Center in Dardanelle needs an infusion of cash — stat.
The Yell County Board of Governors of the hospital recently filed a lawsuit saying the operator, Allegiance Health Management Inc. of Shreveport, hasn’t paid the minimum amount of $15,000 in monthly rent for several months. The complaint was filed in U.S. District Court in Little Rock.
As of October, Allegiance allegedly owed $105,000 in back rent and the board wanted to pull the plug on the lease agreement with the health care operator.
Allegiance, however, contends the lease has not been terminated.
The county’s board of governors has asked a judge to say the lease will end six months from Oct. 17.
The board’s chairman, Ron Merritt, said in a Sept. 4 letter to Allegiance that he had some concerns with its management of the 25-bed hospital.
Vendors were complaining that they were not being paid for services or products delivered to the hospital, he said in the letter.
“Even City utility bills are not paid on time,” he wrote.
Rock Bordelon, Allegiance president, said in his Oct. 23 letter to Merritt that his company prevented the hospital from closing when it began operating the medical center about 12 years ago.
“We have put many millions into your community, literally saved your hospital, and have been a great partner chugging right along doing a good job,” he wrote.
“One small cash crunch for the hospital in that many years from being underpaid should be understandable and I hope you agree.”
He also noted in the letter that Allegiance has provided nearly $13 million worth of indigent care to people in the community.
“I feel we have gone WAY above the call of duty here to provide services with little to no thanks,” Bordelon wrote.
“I ask you to reverse the rolls [sic] here for a minute. Now knowing that we have left millions of what should be AHM money covering our costs, how would you react to the termination notice?”
He said the monthly payments would be on time in the future. And he asked if he could pay the back rent over the next six months.
“This will help us out tremendously if you will accept this,” he wrote.
The hospital’s attorney, John Keeling Baker of the Mitchell Williams law firm in Little Rock, didn’t immediately return a call for comment.
Bordelon didn’t return a call either.
It’s been a tough year for Allegiance. In June, the U.S. Department of Justice announced that Allegiance and four of its hospitals agreed to pay $1.7 million to resolve False Claims Act allegations.
In a news release, the DOJ said that, beginning in 2005, Allegiance provided outpatient psychotherapy services to Medicare beneficiaries who did not qualify for reimbursement.
The Allegiance defendants in the case included North Metro Medical Center of Jacksonville and three other hospitals outside of Arkansas.