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EMH Tells Evans Co. Commissioners to Defer Subsidy Payments for 6 Months

Though the hospital has not treated any COVID-19 patients, Evans Memorial has received so much assistance from the state and federal government in the last 60 days that it’s requesting the county defer the subsidy payments for 6 months.

Evans Memorial Hospital has received so much assistance from the state and federal government in the last sixty days that the nonprofit hospital is asking the Evans County Commissioners to hold off on issuing any more subsidy payments for six months. 

In early March, the county commissioners approved a $50,000 monthly subsidy for Evans Memorial as part of a partnership with the Jack Strickland Foundation after the hospital made 11th hour pleas for financial assistance. The commissioners committed $50,000 every month for a total of six months for a total of $300,000 which was set to be matched by the Jack Strickland Foundation. A number of conditions were attached to the payments, to include monthly financial statements made available to commissioners and seeking a buyer for the hospital. 

But weeks after the vote to infuse tax dollars into the local hospital, the COVID-19 pandemic altered how hospitals provide care –  specifically eliminating elective surgeries and imaging – and allowed rural hospitals to draw down considerable state and federal funds. EMH CEO Nikki NeSmith appeared on behalf of the Hospital Authority to update the commissioners on how the financial position of the hospital has changed due to the changes in revenue streams.  

Evans Memorial has not had any COVID-19 patients, according to NeSmith, though the hospital did test one patient as an outpatient. “We are very grateful for that,” she said. 

Since March, EMH has received: 

  • 1 $50,000 payment from Evans County taxpayers
  • 2 $50,000 payments from the Jack Strickland Foundation
  • $489,000 in Georgia rural hospital stabilization grant funds to be used for operating expenses and payroll
  • $203,000 in CARES Act stimulus funds use for any expenses 
  • $274,000 from CMS from a re-opened 2011 cost report.
  • $471,000 in DISH funding, which was more than expected and delivered early (not COVID-related, but wasn’t expected until June)
  • $84,000 supplemental SHIP grant – must be spent on COVID-related items (has not yet been dispersed, expected any day)
  • Approved for the maximum amount under the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) through SBA which gives 2 ½ months of payroll – must be spent on utilities, mortgage, payroll and benefits and within 8 weeks if it is to be forgiven by federal government. Also requires employees to continue working, though there is partial unemployment for some staff because of a decreased patient load.

Without considering the 2 1/2 months of payroll funding from the SBA’s PPP program, the total comes to $1,671,000. The county also agreed in February to front the next several years worth of SPLOST money due to the hospital authority.

When NeSmith concluded listing the additional revenue streams, Commissioner Brian Croft called for an applause, though none was given.

NeSmith said if the Commissioners continued making payments, the money would be placed in hospital reserve accounts. “We want to be conscious of the money that we’re receiving and also conscious of the county’s money, we have received that one payment from the county in March, but we feel like at this time that our situation is much different than the last time, than when we came to you before, so what the Authority suggested that we defer the payments, for the payments of the remaining $250,000, for a period of six months and then reevaluate.” 

In the meantime, the county will continue to make the bond payments on behalf of the hospital as agreed.

Overall, NeSmith said the revenues are down 60%. NeSmith said the hospital has received PPE donations from as far as Pennsylvania and California and low-impact areas, like Evans County, are now able to resume elective surgeries and imaging services. “We do feel that it’s safe for patients to come up there and get their procedure,” NeSmith said. 

Commissioner Tony Lewis asked if the Jack Strickland Foundation was going to continue making its $50,000 monthly payment to EMH since it was a supposed joint venture by Evans County and the Foundation. NeSmith said that she planned to inform the Foundation of the changes in financial position and let their board make the decision.

NeSmith did not provide an update on any of the other conditions of the money. An advisory committee was established as a condition, though COVID-19 was cited for the reason the committee had not yet met. The group is expected to meet Thursday, May 7th at Hagan Park at 4:00 p.m. 

You can see the documents provided to county commissioners below. Only March financials were provided. 

EMH March 2020 financials

Jessica Szilagyi is a Statewide Contributor for AllOnGeorgia.com. She focuses primarily on state and local politics as well as issues in law enforcement. She has a background in Political Science with a focus in local government and has a Master of Public Administration from the University of Georgia. Jessica is a "Like It Or Not" contributor for Fox5 in Atlanta and has two blogs of her own: The Perspicacious Conservative and "Hair Blowers to Lawn Mowers."

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