Look Back: Report Says Bankruptcy Didn’t Hurt Auburn Hospital Care | Story

August 21, 2007

Auburn Memorial Hospital has maintained adequate patient care despite operating under Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection since April, according to a court-appointed ombudsman’s report.

Carole E. Mead of Unadilla filed her first health care ombudsman report for the AMH bankruptcy case last week. After multiple visits and interviews, she concluded that patient care has not suffered at the hospital or its properties, which include the Finger Lakes Center of Living nursing home and the Auburn and Skaneateles outpatient medical centers. .

“There seemed to be no reason to suspect that there was a deterioration of care in the institutions,” Mead wrote. “There do not appear to have been any significant issues at any of the facilities since the bankruptcy filing.”

AMH filed Chapter 11 on April 24 with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Northern District of New York. As part of the process when a case involves a hospital, the court may appoint an ombudsman to monitor patient care while the facility is operating under bankruptcy protection.

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Mead visited the hospital – including two unannounced visits – on July 13, July 24, August 3 and August 9. She spent six to eight hours at the facility on each visit and interviewed patients, residents and staff.

“Throughout the Ombudsman’s investigation, the Debtor and all staff have been cooperative and helpful,” Mead wrote. “Information, materials and the time to answer questions and explain the policy were all provided without hesitation and in a polite and friendly manner.”

Mead said she heard no complaints during her visits to the hospital and nursing home. She reported that the facilities were clean and well maintained, and the staff were friendly and helpful.

She said several staff members asked her if she thought the hospital was going to close.

At outpatient centers, Mead said some patients are frustrated with wait times. She noted that the facilities were quite busy, dealing with local residents and tourists visiting the area.

Rosalyn McCormick, AMH’s vice president of patient care services, said the hospital is pleased with Mead’s conclusion that quality care is being provided and that the bankruptcy has not disrupted that mission.

Mead will continue to monitor patient care at AMH during the bankruptcy process.

Later this month, the court will hold a hearing on the hospital’s request for a Dec. 20 deadline to file its Chapter 11 reorganization plan, which would be an extension of the Aug. 22 deadline originally set. He is also asking for a related extension of time to seek approval of his plan from creditors. He would like this deadline to be moved from October 21 to February 18.

— Compiled by David Wilcox

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