Rural hospital turns to GoFundMe to stay open

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The only hospital in Polk County, Tennessee, has laid off 15 nurses, halted all inpatient care and started a crowdfunding campaign in hopes of raising $100,000.

The 25-bed Copper Basin Medical Center is “technically bankrupt,” according to its new CEO, Dan Johnson. While the emergency and outpatient departments will continue to operate, Johnson said staff cutbacks were necessary when the hospital couldn’t make payroll.

“It wouldn’t have been fiscally responsible or morally responsible to have people work without paying them every two weeks. And to raise capital, we need to reduce payroll,” he told STAT.

Former employees have complained they’re still owed paychecks, while Johnson said his efforts are focusing on keeping the hospital open on a day-to-day basis, “figuring out who to pay $200 or $300 for supplies.” After its billing vendor quit, the hospital started offering patients with overdue bills a chance to pay half their outstanding amount to get their remaining debt written off.

But so far, the GoFundMe campaign has only raised $845.

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