Employees demand pay after Tennessee hospital closure

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Jamestown (Tenn.) Regional Medical Center abruptly closed in 2019, and its former employees are nearing the end of a court battle over pay and benefits. 

The 85-bed hospital closed June 13, 2019, just one day after its Medicare and Medicaid funding was cut off and three days after a new CEO was appointed. A sign on the hospital's door said the closure was temporary, but it remains shuttered more than two years later. 

After Jamestown Regional closed, former employees filed a class-action lawsuit against the hospital and its owner, West Palm Beach, Fla.-based Rennova Health. The complaint alleged the hospital and Rennova violated the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act, which requires at least 60 days written notice before a mass layoff. More than 100 physicians, nurses and staff worked at the hospital when it shut down, according to the complaint filed June 21, 2019. 

The lawsuit demands back pay for the hospital's former employees and reimbursement for lost benefits, including medical expenses.

In April of this year, the parties disagreed on the amount of damages in the case, specifically whether part-time workers are entitled to damages. After mediation, the parties agreed to enter into a confidential settlement. In documents filed with the court, lawyers representing the workers said the settlement is fair and reasonable because it accounts for about 98 percent to 140 percent of total damages. 

A hearing on the final approval of the settlement is set for Sept. 10. 

Jamestown Regional isn't the only hospital owned by Rennova that has experienced financial hardship. The company said in April that its Tennessee hospitals were operating at a cash deficiency and payroll had been late. Rennova was three pay periods behind on payroll at its hospital in Oneida, Tenn., in March, according to The Independent Herald.

Six rural hospitals in Tennessee have closed since 2019, including Jamestown Regional and Rennova's hospital in Jellico, which shut down in March.  

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