Emergency room docs receive delayed payment for April work

  • Lakes Region General Hospital

Monitor staff
Published: 7/16/2021 4:13:49 PM

A group of doctors have received missing payments for the hours they worked in the emergency departments at LRGHealthcare hospitals in Laconia and Franklin in April, the month before the facilities were acquired by Concord Hospital.

Doctors hired through EM-staff, a small business that contracts out emergency physicians, received the paychecks on July 13, about a two-month delay.

In May, Joel Hansford and Matthew Warden, co-founders of EM-staff, noticed they had yet to receive payment for the hours a team of 10 doctors worked in April. The missing money totaled almost $140,000.

Concord Hospital purchased the healthcare provider in a $30 million deal, after they filed for bankruptcy in October. It took ownership of LRGHeathcare, which was $130 million in debt, on May 1.

The delay in payments was tied up in the legal bankruptcy process and the transfer of ownership. Legally, Concord had no obligation to pay – since it did not own the hospitals in April. Meanwhile, the bankruptcy court had to approve all of LRGH’s final payments.

Laconia hospital officials said there was no ill will or deceit.

“LRGHealthcare did not intentionally try to ‘stiff’ anyone,” Cynthia Pike Barron, the board chair for the former LRGHealthcare wrote in a letter to the Monitor.

However, communication between the owners of EM-staff, the bankruptcy court and hospital executives in Laconia and Concord, left Hansford and Warden unsure if they would ever see the money.

“What we were told was there was no guarantee of any payment. There is no guarantee of when any decision will be made,” said Warden. “So that was the context in which we were seeking a broader discussion on this topic.”

The duo felt an obligation to pursue the payments to support their staff.

“We felt it was important to act on behalf of our contractors to get them that payment. And to not pursue that due diligence would have been not consistent with advocating for your team,” said Warden.

In her letter, Barron apologized but defended the delay.

“I apologize that it has taken so long, but 60 days is not that long to wait for payment from a bankrupt organization and the approval process had started weeks before the recent negative and incomplete reporting,” she wrote.

Hansford and Warden still contend the late payment violated the contract between EM-staff and LRGHealthcare. The contract stated that payments were to be made within 30 days of the invoice.

“For us, it was a late payment. Contextually, 60 days is not late across many industries. But in fact it was a violation of the contract,” said Warden.

Now that the payment is received EM-staff hopes to put the issue to rest. They will continue to work in Franklin and Laconia hospitals, as they signed a year-long contract with Concord Hospital that started on May 1.

“We are happy that all the contractors have been paid and we think that was the right thing because they worked in good faith in the pandemic,” said Warden.

Concord Hospital, echoes these sentiments.

“We were pleased to learn that the emergency room providers received payment from the estate of what was formerly LRGHealthcare,” Chief Advancement Officer Pamela Puleosaid in a statement, while underscoring the hospital is not involved in the payment process for debts before May 1. “We are pleased that the estate is moving as expeditiously as possible to resolve issues for those who seek payment following the bankruptcy of LRGHealthcare.”

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