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Hearing on sale of bankrupt North Carolina hospital postponed after 5 organizations raise objections

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A bankruptcy court hearing regarding the proposed sale of Eden, N.C.-based Morehead Memorial Hospital has been postponed until Nov. 8 after several organizations raised objections to the transaction, according to the Triad Business Journal.

Hospital officials asked a judge to move the hearing, originally scheduled for Monday, to 9 a.m. Wednesday, according to court documents obtained by the Triad Business Journal. Officials reportedly issued the decision to resolve some of the organizations' concerns.

Morehead Memorial, which includes a 108-bed hospital, a 121-bed skilled nursing facility and several medical offices, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in July. Miami-based for-profit company Empower iHCC successfully outbid six other organizations to buy the hospital and its assets during an auction last week. Empower iHCC's bid included $10.76 million in cash, an investment of $18 million and pledge to keep the hospital open for at least 10 years, according to the report.

In order to complete the sale, Empower iHCC must obtain approval from a bankruptcy judge.

However, at least five organizations have filed objections to the potential sale, including the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the hospital's former operator, Winston-Salem, N.C.-based Novant Health, according to a second Triad Business Journal report.

HUD claimed the court should not approve the sale because the hospital cannot sell its assets clear of HUD's security interests without the agency's consent, and that Empower iHCC's bid violates the court's order on the use of cash collateral, according to the second Triad Business Journal report. Under Novant Health's limited objection filing, the organization seeks to ensure it receives a minimum of $529,200 in cash once Empower iHCC assumes management of the hospital.

"We disagree with the objections and believe we have a strong case for the sale hearing based on legal precedents and the bankruptcy code," Morehead Memorial Hospital CEO Dana Weston told the Triad Business Journal. "I hope that all parties involved remember that this is ultimately about healthcare for a community."

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