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Walker County Messenger - - Front Page -

The Hutch­e­son Med­i­cal Cen­ter ex­ited the am­bu­lance busi­ness in 2008. Am­bu­lance du­ties were as­sumed by Walker County Emer­gency Ser­vices, by An­gel Emer­gency Med­i­cal Ser­vices in Ca­toosa County and by Life­guard Am­bu­lance Ser­vice in Dade County.

The re­cently adopted Walker County bud­get for 2015 shows no di­rect sup­port of the hospi­tal.

Fol­low­ing the hospi­tal’s near fi­nan­cial col­lapse in 2011, Walker and Ca­toosa tax­pay­ers guar­an­teed lines of credit to­tal­ing about $20.5 mil­lion that the hospi­tal used to sup­port its day-to-day op­er­a­tions. Those guar­an­tees al­lowed the hospi­tal to se­cure loans/lines of credit at more fa­vor­able rates, some­thing that is pos­si­ble be­cause cred­i­tors are will­ing to loan money to any en­tity that has the abil­ity to re­pay loans with tax rev­enue.

Up­date: Af­ter a law­suit that went on for sev­eral years in U.S. Dis­trict Court, a fed­eral judge ruled in Erlanger’s favor and or­dered Ca­toosa and Walker coun­ties to make good on their guar­an­tees.

Ca­toosa’s le­gal wran­gling with Erlanger hospi­tal over re­pay­ment of $10 mil­lion, its share of the loan guar­an­tee, ended in June 2016, when the county’s five-mem­ber Board of Com­mis­sion­ers agreed to pay the Chat­tanooga-based hospi­tal $6.25 mil­lion to set­tle the mat­ter out of court. That pay­ment was made from Ca­toosa’s cash re­serves.

Walker County, hav­ing no cash re­serves, is faced with the prospect of ei­ther as­sess­ing tax­pay­ers to raise the amount de­manded by Erlanger, or to con­tinue the mat­ter be­fore a jury.

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