By Amanda McBride
The Choctaw Plaindealer
Pioneer Community Hospital of Choctaw has terminated their lease with Choctaw County effective August 1.
PCH-Choctaw is under a lease agreement for new hospital, medical office building and the Choctaw County Nursing Home, all of which the county owns.
Steve Fontaine, vice president of hospital operations of Pioneer Health Systems, addressed the Choctaw County Board of Supervisors in their January 21 board meeting.
“I come with a heavy heart today,” he said before stating that Pioneer is terminating their lease with the county. He said that Pioneer and the county have come to an “impasse of late” with “indigent care and others.”
He hand delivered a notice of termination of lease agreement letter to the supervisors.
In the letter, Pioneer states they are terminating the lease due to the county’s failure to comply with certain conditions of the lease agreement.
“Due to Lessor’s (Choctaw County) failure to comply with certain conditions of said Lease Agreement, Lessee (PCH-Choctaw) submits their letter as formal written notice of Lessee’s intent to terminate the Lease Agreement,” as stated in a portion of the letter.
The letter continues to explain that the county has not paid Pioneer the required $73,500 quarterly indigent care payment, due January 1, therefore they elect to terminate the lease.
“Long story short, we are enacting that clause to part ways,” said Fontaine.
In previous Board of Supervisors meetings, the board has asked Pioneer for a statement of how much money in indigent care they have spent in Choctaw County.
In this meeting, Steve Wright, board attorney, said the county has asked for a statement from Pioneer explaining how much in indigent care funds they spend for the quarter.
Fontaine said the requested statement of indigent care “is not required in the lease or state law and we are not going to provide that.”
Fontaine said that Pioneer would continue to maintain and operate a fully functioning hospital and nursing home until August 1.
After the meeting, Chris McIntire, board president, said, “The board is taking this letter under advisement at this time.”
Pioneer Health Services has served Choctaw County for approximately three years.
Pioneer began by managing the Choctaw County Nursing Home and the Choctaw County Medical Center (old hospital) in February 2010. Their lease of the old hospital and the nursing home began in 2011.
Choctaw County built a brand new, state-of-the art hospital and medical office building of which Pioneer has leased.
The medical office building opened in December 2012 and the new hospital opened in July 2013.