Tri-Lakes Medical Center

Published 12:00 am Friday, September 25, 2009

Primary doctors welcomed at hospital, say new owners

By John Howell Sr.

Yes, your local doctor can come to Tri-Lakes Medical Center and take care of you.

That’s the answer to the question that Batesville physician Dr. Mike Havens said he has been asked most frequently since he, along with six others in a physicians’ syndicate, purchased the Batesville hospital on September 4 in a section 363 asset sale in bankruptcy court.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

Since then, Havens has served as both hospitalist — the in-house physician on duty at the hospital, managing patients’ treatments — and in his ongoing private practice. Another syndicate member, Dr. Raymon Rosenkrans, also serves as hospitalist, Havens said.

“We’ve had a real good, rewarding two weeks,” Havens said. “People have been elated and excited; pleased,” he said.

The hospitalist — Havens said the syndicate is negotiating with a full-time hospitalist — is responsible for the overall care of hospital patients, but any doctor on the medical staff can admit their patients to Tri-Lakes and treat them while they are in the hospital.

Havens and Rosenkrans, along with Drs. Lee Linder, R. C. Purohit, Greg Cantrell and Tom Crowson, formed Alliance Health Partners to purchase the assets of the medical facility that declared bankruptcy in August, 2007. The process lasted 18 months. In July, as the deadline for the sale approached, the post-petition lender cut off further loans to the facility.

“I don’t think this community knows how close this came to being like the old Wal-Mart building,” Havens, sitting in the hospital’s administrative office, said.

The new owners initially cut 15 to 20 positions at the hospital, Cantrell said. “We hired some back,” he added.

“The way I see it, 300 jobs were lost in Panola County in the bankruptcy and 285 were hired back by a new company,” Havens said. “We just picked who we wanted.”

Initial changes also included pushing management decisions down into respective departments and shifting personnel to match the hospital’s busiest hours. Admissions are busiest from 3 to 6 p.m., and the emergency room is busiest from 3 p.m. until midnight, Cantrell said.

Dr. Scott Sanford of Oxford and his affiliated physicians will continue to provide emergency room coverage, Havens said. Sanford took over responsibility for the emergency room in March, 2008. “We’ll just have to support them with personnel and a system,” Havens said. The support has included the purchase of new lab equipment. “We’re going to focus on those times when we have the business.”

“We went to private rooms from day one,” Cantrell said. The hospital is currently arranged with 31 private rooms and 62 semi-private rooms. When admissions last weekend filled all the private rooms patients were placed singly in semi-private rooms.

Havens said that the new owners plan to buy hospital furniture that will allow the semi-private rooms to be converted to private rooms with a family sitting area.

“One of the most positive feedbacks is the food,” Havens said. He said that he has challenged the hospital’s kitchen staff to improve the taste of meals.

And the question Havens hears second most often?

“Are we going to ‘flip’ it to a big company?” Havens said.

“We sold the business plan with local physicians in leadership and control,” Havens said, describing the proposal Alliance Health Partners put before U.S. Bankruptcy Judge David Houston as part of its bid. He also said that Alliance would incur a pre-payment penalty if it sold the hospital before seven years from the purchase date.