Staff reports

Employees at Plaquemine’s River West Medical Center had to rely on the advancement of funds from Louisiana state health officials to receive payroll checks for their most recent pay period it was reported yesterday.

A number of the hospital’s employees hand their paychecks bounce last Friday, still a Medical Center spokesperson said 90 percent of the professional staff and 70 percent of the support services personnel reported to work earlier this week.

Due to staff shortages, however, hospital officials moved a handful of patients to other hospitals and nursing homes. Operations are to continue for the emergency room, outpatient services, physical therapy, and laboratory work.

River West is an 80-bed capacity facility that employs as many as 250 full time and part time workers. A hospital official reported that 65 payroll checks amounting to $100,000 did not clear. State Dept. of Health and Hospitals advanced the facility $150,000 to help make its payroll.

A spokesman for River West Medical Center cited the general economic downturn in the nation’s health-care industry as well as problems with receiving insurance reimbursements in a timely manner for damage to the facility by Hurricane Gustav. Inpatient services were shutdown for 45 days following Hurricane Gustav due to storm damages. Only a portion of the insurance claim reimbursements have been paid to the hospital leaving a shortage of funds around the estimated $2.5 million dollar mark.

River West Medical Center has been owned by Shiloh Health Services, whose home office is in Missouri, since 2007.