RMH survives again, for now

Blackhawk officers resign, company sold; local hospital directors weighing options
Reporter Editor

Richards Memorial Hospital survived major closing scares in 1989, 1994 and 2000. There have been anxious moments this week. Richards Memorial Hospital survived major closing scares in 1989, 1994 and 2000. There have been anxious moments this week. Rockdale Hospital District officials have no word, officially or unofficially, of any plans Blackhawk Healthcare might have to close Richards Memorial Hospital.

There were anxious moments at the 36-year-old hospital over the weekend after a Bastrop hospital, also operated by Blackhawk, abruptly closed its doors.

“We have no word from Blackhawk of any plans to shut us down,” Carl Hudson, president of the Rockdale Hospital District board of directors, told The Reporter.

Blackhawk itself went through a major shakeup on Monday. The four-member Blackhawk leadership team resigned and the organization now has a new owner.

Hudson said he had spoken to the new owner, Kevin Owens, Monday afternoon.

“He’s ready to work with us and we’re looking forward to working with him,” Hudson said.

Hudson said he would not address rumors, swirling in the wake of the shutdown of 15-bed Lakeside Hospital in Bastrop.

The board chairman said he had corresponded with Blackhawk personnel over the weekend, prior to Monday’s sale of the company.

“I certainly have not been advised of anything like a shutdown,” he said.

SIMILAR— Lakeside’s situation was similar to Richards Memorial’s in some ways

Blackhawk had managed Lakeside since 2008, then purchased it last year.

Blackhawk has managed Richards Memorial since 2006 and is currently negotiating to purchase the facility.

Friday, employees arrived at Lakeside to find it locked with a sign on the door advising the hospital was closed and a phone number for patients seeking medical records.

Patients seeking emergency care were referred to Smithville Regional Hospital.

Hudson emphasized that RHD directors have been negotiating with Blackhawk for many months and that, unlike the situation in Bastrop, the district, not Blackhawk, still owns the facility.

“There were some advantages in not rushing into closing this deal,” he said.

CRISIS— On July 28, Blackhawk cut the Richards Memorial workforce by 15 to 20 percent, an estimated 30 to 40 jobs.

Hudson emphasized the hospital district still has options even in the event Blackhawk would ever eventually decide to shut down RMH.

“I’m by no means saying that’s going to happen,” he said. “But that’s not necessarily the end.”

In addition to Richards Memorial and the former Lakeside, Blackhawk also manages a tiny rural hospital in Mangum, Oklahoma.

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2010-11-25 digital edition

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