Tennessee hospital wants to privatize $75M in debt: 6 things to know

Blount Memorial Hospital in Maryville, Tenn., is looking to privatize its debt structure, The Daily Times reported.

Six things to know:

1. The hospital seeks to privatize $75.3 million in debt backed by Blount County taxpayers, the report states. It plans to do so by reaching a refinance deal with Pinnacle Financial Partners.

2. Hospital CFO Jonathan Smith told The Daily Times the $75.3 million represents 96 percent of Blount Memorial's debt structure.

3. The hospital, a governmental entity, is looking at its taxpayer-backed debt structure after it was made public that Blount Memorial Foundation Executive Director Jane Andrews embezzled $186,655.57 from the nonprofit foundation between October 2007 and April 2016. According to The Daily Times, the hospital did not notify Maryville police about the embezzlement. Instead, it  told the Blount County District Attorney's Office, which did not press charges but required Ms. Andrew to pay the money back with interest. The report states the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation got involved this year after the county requested police involvement and completed its own probe. District Attorney General Bryant Dunaway, of the 13th Judicial District of Tennessee, will decide whether charges are filed in the future.

4. The hospital also decided to look at its taxpayer-backed debt structure since its existing loan, held by JP Morgan Chase & Co., expires in 2019.

5. Blount Memorial spokesperson Josh West told The Daily Times: "With the hospital's debt set for renewal in late 2019, we decided it would be an opportune time for us to evaluate our options. We're also aware that there has been some discomfort in the community with regard to the hospital's county-backed debt structure. As always, it is our goal to be good citizens and maintain the confidence of the people of Blount County, so we began exploring options that would be independent of taxpayer liability."

6. The hospital plans to continue negotiations with Pinnacle.


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