Havens opening clinic on Eureka

Published 4:39 pm Thursday, August 8, 2019

By Jeremy Weldon

Longtime Batesville doctor and, and former hospital owner, Dr. Michael Havens resigned his position as CEO of Panola Medical Center June 19 and was subsequently terminated as a physician, hospitalist, and supervisor, he told The Panolian last week.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

Havens placed an advertisement in the Friday edition of the newspaper announcing the opening of a new practice – Batesville Medical Center – on Monday, Aug. 12, in the medical arts complex on Eureka St. Joining the doctor will be his nurse practitioner Jodi Russell.

Contacted after the advertising order was placed, Havens said the possibility of legal action prohibits him for discussing his professional change, but said hospital managers were told that Thompson had been fired and he had resigned in anger shortly afterwards.

Havens said CFO Wayne Thompson was fired and he immediately resigned as CEO, intending to continue treating patients at the hospital with his nurses and staff, but taking no more responsibility or duties in the day-to-day operations of the hospital.

Havens said no one spoke with him prior to Thompson’s termination although he was the chief executive of Panola Medical Center at the time.

Since then, the hospital’s CEO position has been assumed by Quintin Whitwell, an Oxford attorney who assembled a team of other investors to purchase Panola Medical Center from Curae Health Services in federal bankruptcy court in March, 2019.

Chris Ware, who headed the Respiratory Therapy unit of the hospital, was promoted to COO following the termination of Thompson.

Havens declined to answer when asked if the sudden absence of two of the hospital’s main officers is an indication of the stability of the hospital, or the new owners’ lack of dedication to the highest standards of medical care for citizens of Batesville and surrounding  communities.

Others have not declined to voice an opinion. Board of Supervisors president Cole Flint said he was disappointed to learn that Havens is no longer affiliated with the hospital, saying many local leaders were skeptical of the new ownership team’s ability to keep the hospital viable, but supported the purchase when Whitwell assured them that Thompson and Havens would have management positions after the purchase was approved by the courts.

“It worries me that just a couple of months after the new owners took over that we’ve lost Dr. Havens and we don’t have any communication with them,” Flint said. “We recognize that it takes some adjustments and time to take over a business, especially one as large and complicated as the hospital, but some people are just not satisfied with what we see from the outside.”

Whitwell, in a Monday morning interview, said the hospital is operating fine and personnel changes happen in the business world every day. “Dr. Havens is a good guy who has a difference of opinion about the operation of the hospital.”

The new CEO said Dr. Havens retains his physician privileges at Panola Medical Center.

Havens has long been associated with the hospital, serving as an officer and hospitalist for many years. He and a group of other doctors, in 2009s, bought the hospital and operated it for two years before selling to a larger company and continuing to work there.

During the latter half of 2018 when the hospital was in bankruptcy, Havens served as CEO and Thompson as CFO on behalf of the federal court, and reports submitted by the hospital during those months showed positive cash flow, helping convince the judge that Batesville and the surrounding population could adequately support the hospital if the proposal given the court by Whitwell and his partners was accepted.

Upon completion of the purchase three months ago, Havens was asked by the new owners to resume serving as CEO after about a month, a position he held for eight weeks until the late June terminations of he and Thompson.

Whitwell said his management team has worked hard to make inroads with officials in the city and county, and inform patients about the services and programs available to prospective patients in the area.