Blount Memorial Hospital Transparency

With all the recent discussions about the hospital’s nonprofit embezzlement scandal and today’s coverage of the taxpayers being on the hook for hospital debt, it is worth taking a look at what I (Tona Monroe) wrote about the debt and lack of information provided by Blount Memorial Hospital in November 2016.  Some of you may recall that then Chairman Jerome Moon, who was appointed state representative by 16 yes men on the commission, cut me off for discussing information that the hospital should have been forthcoming with prior to asking the commission to approve refinancing its debt.

Mayor Ed Mitchell and Commissioner Dave Bennett are acting indignant now, but these two and most of the commissioners didn’t seem to be concerned about the taxpayers when they reauthorized putting the citizens on the hook for variable rate debt that have swaps attached.  You can listen to the meeting here and will hear Bennett objecting to my pointing out that approving the hospital’s variable debt means that the county will still be responsible for variable rate debt.

Furthermore, when two hospital board appointments came before the commission in January 2016, I moved to postpone it for a month so that we could learn more about the nominees’ plans for the hospital debt and vision for the future. (See page 3.)  The majority of commissioners didn’t seem to care enough to think we should discuss future plans for the hospital.

Thus, there are some who are acting indignant now but where was this concern when I tried to shed light on how the hospital was/is operating?

Those voting to approve the Blount Memorial Hospital Board nominees in January 2016
Allen – yes  Archer – yes  Bowers – yes  Carter – yes  Carver – yes  Caskey – yes  Caylor – yes  Cole – yes  Crowe – yes  Farmer – yes  Headrick – yes  Lewis – yes  Melton – yes  Moon – yes  Samples – yes  Stinnett – yes

Those voting not to approve the nominees in January 2016
Akard – no  Daly – no  Miller – no  Monroe – no

French was absent. There were 16 voting yes, 4 voting no, 0 abstaining, and 1 absent. Chairman Moon declared the appointments approved.

Those who voted to approve renewing the variable rate debt with interests rate swaps
Allen, Bennett, Carver, Caskey, Caylor, Cole, Crowe, Farmer, French, Lewis, Melton, Moon, Samples, Stinnett

Those who voted not to approve renewing the variable rate debt with interests rate swaps
Archer, Daly, Miller, Monroe

Those who were absent
Akard, Bowers, Carter

There were 14 voting yes, 4 voting no, 0 abstain, and 3 absent.  Chairman Moon declared the motion to have passed and the resolution adopted.

Local debt
The next time you hear that the county’s debt is finally fully fixed rate keep in mind that much of the hospital debt is variable, with swaps attached, and that you’re on the hook for it if the hospital defaults, thanks to a lackadaisical commission majority and mayor who didn’t demand more accountability and transparency from the hospital.

Rick Carver has a conflict of interest
Commissioner Rick Carver works for East Tennessee Medical Group, which is owned by Blount Memorial Hospital.  He has a conflict of interest and should have abstained on both of these votes.  He did not declare that he has a conflict of interest and voted yes on both.

Let freedom ring!
Tona

3 thoughts on “Blount Memorial Hospital Transparency

  1. It is still mind blowing that the Blount County Commission does not adhere to Roberts Rule of Order. It appears the Commission does whatever THEY want. It is my opinion that this is no way to govern and spend taxpayers dollars.

  2. My wife is a former 10+ year employee of BMH and saw from the inside much of the cronyism and mis-management of BMH. When I shared with my wife the Daily Times article of the embezzlement scandal, I asked her opinion of “WHY” the hospital would “chose” to not prosecute Ms. Andrews.

    My wife’s opinion was very insightful. It was my wife’s opinion is that as Executive Director, Ms. Andrews knows a lot of dirt on other mismanagement of funds of other Executives at the top of the BMH Food chain.

    What the hospital should have done is to make an example of Ms. Andrews and prosecute her, but as part of her reduced sentence, would require Ms. Andrews to repay with interest the embezzled funds. However keeping Ms. Andrews quiet about what she knows is the real reason the hospital did not want to prosecute her. I also find it very suspicious that Ms. Andrews was able to make her problem go away so easily by simply writing a check for $208,418.36. Who has that much liquid cash on hand? The question should be asked, where did that money come from?

    What the audit has uncovered is probably not even the tip of the iceberg of other misappropriate funds.

    • These governmental audits appear to be more about compliance with accounting standards and uncovering theft than looking for waste and mismanagement in government. Failure to adhere to an accounting standard may result in an audit finding. Taxpayer money is wasted everyday but you usually don’t read about it in an audit report.

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