Tennessee lawmaker calls for prosecution after hospital abruptly closes

Jamestown (Tenn.) Regional Medical Center abruptly shut down June 13, and now state lawmakers are searching for answers, according to local TV station WATE.

State Reps. John Mark Windle and Kelly Keisling and state Sen. Ken Yager sent a letter last week to the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development asking whether the hospital's owner, West Palm Beach, Fla.-based Rennova Health, filed a Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act notice. Mr. Windle is also seeking other information from the hospital, including individual accounts to review, all claims for unemployment compensation and federal income tax payments.

Mr. Windle began his inquiry after employees who were laid off when Jamestown Regional closed called him with complaints. Employees say they can't draw unemployment benefits because the hospital didn't send withholdings from their paychecks to the government. Some employees who were laid off have received letters from the federal government threatening prosecution for unpaid federal income taxes, even though the taxes were deducted from their paychecks, Mr. Windle told WATE.

Mr. Windle called on the state to rectify the situation and expressed concerns about Rennova Health's leader.

"He's simply a thief and should be prosecuted," Mr. Windle said referring to Rennova President and CEO Seamus Lagan. "We've got to make this right. It's not fair for people who have children in high school and college and have bills to pay for some thief to come into Tennessee and take these people's money and mistreat them when they go to work every day and provide services for people."

In a statement issued to the Independent Herald on June 21, Rennova said it has paid all taxes due to the state for employees who were laid off from Jamestown Regional, made all necessary unemployment-related filings with the state, and is taking steps to get the hospital's Medicare contract reinstated. The hospital's Medicare funding was cut off June 12.

Rennova also said Mr. Lagan has hired a law firm specializing in defamation to take legal action against individuals who have made false and disparaging remarks that have caused "irreparable damage and cost," according to the Independent Herald.

"It is unfortunate that so much effort is exerted to vilify the company and individuals that continue to invest in the community, without consideration of all the facts that have caused the current turmoil," Rennova said in a statement to WATE. "A more productive route would have been a united effort to work to resolve the need for employment and medical service this hospital provided to the community."

Access the full WATE article here.

Access the full Independent Herald article here.

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