met and took several actions regarding the Authority’s relationship with Americore Health, LLC
and the Authority’s ongoing effort to re-open a hospital in Lee County.
Commissioners Approve Transaction to Repurchase Hospital Building
In a unanimous vote, the Commissioners adopted a motion by Dr. Scott Litton to approve the
transaction documents necessary to sever the relationship between the Authority and
Americore. The vote concludes discussions of the past few weeks between the Authority and
Americore to structure an efficient and quick separation. When the Authority selected Americore
during 2017, Americore was the only option that guaranteed the Authority to re-open a hospital
in the county.
“We felt like Americore was making great progress until mid-August,” said Commissioner Howard
Elliott. “Then,” he added, “all progress stopped.”
“The Commissioners of the Authority provided very clear guidance to the Special Committee on
the acceptable structure of any transaction: no additional county debt could be created and the
county debt already on the building could not be cancelled and written-off,” said H. Ronnie
Montgomery, Vice Chairman of the Authority.
“We set up a Special Committee at the December 16th meeting to work with legal counsel and
Americore to finalize the Certificate of Public Need extension request and to discuss the
relationship with Americore,” he added. “Eventually, those discussions turned to a separation.”
“We have really focused on our main goal – re-opening a hospital – and over the past few weeks
we began to conclude it was better for the people of Lee County if we went in a different
direction,” added Commissioner Diana Pope. Mr. Elliott and Ms. Pope served on the Joint
Operations Committee created following the initial transaction with Americore to oversee the
re-opening of the hospital. Together with Mr. Montgomery, the three Commissioners comprise
the Authority’s Special Committee.
The approved transaction contemplates that the existing secured note on the building held by
the Lee County Board of Supervisors will remain on the building and be repaid over time. The
other existing debt on the facility, which was placed on the building by Americore, will be paid by
the Authority’s new medical partner, as required by the Authority’s deal with Americore.
Commissioner Benny Sergent summed up the thoughts of his fellow commissioners noting: “Our
goal during the fall of 2018 was to give Americore every opportunity to succeed without
interfering with their plans, if they could execute upon them, and I believe we did that,” He
November and December. “We had multiple meetings during each of the past few months to
monitor this situation, file for the COPN extension, and select a new partner,” stated Dr. Scott
Litton. “We have been going non-stop on this for several weeks with a lot of activity behind the
scenes making progress toward our goal of re-opening a hospital,” he added.
Commissioners Select Ballad Health
Last night’s second major vote was the selection by the Authority of Ballad Health as its medical
partner going forward.
Mr. Montgomery noted that Ballad Health recently approached the Authority to provide
confidence to the Authority that if needed Ballad Health would fulfill its commitments to the
Commonwealth of Virginia and provide the “essential services” contemplated in the
Commonwealth’s Cooperative Agreement authorizing the merger of the health systems last year.
“Those conversations quickly became a conversation about doing more and re-opening a hospital
in the county,” he added.
“Last night we were very deliberate in our process. We had options. We wanted to get all of the
facts we could gather and make a decision,” said Commissioner Malcolm Perdue. “It is good we
had options, and we gave them each consideration, but in the end, Ballad was the right choice.”
The Authority conducted an extensive investigation to identify its new medical partner and
considered alternative proposals, eventually selecting Ballad Health for a number of reasons.
“The hospital building will once again be owned by the Authority. That was a big deal for us,”
added Commissioner Pope.
“Preserving rural access to care is what Ballad Health was created to do,” said Alan Levine,
executive chairman and CEO of Ballad Health. “This is the benefit of the merger, and we are
excited to work with the Lee County Hospital Authority going forward. I give credit to the
Authority members and to Del. Terry Kilgore and Jeff Mitchell on their passion, perseverance,
and commitment to the residents of Lee County.”
Commissioner Dr. Jill Couch added “This is a remarkable turn of events. We’re looking forward
to working with Ballad to re-open our hospital.”
The Authority last night directed its Special Committee to work out the details.
Commissioner Patton Speak noted that the hospital has been closed for over 5 years. “Rural
hospitals do not reopen. They close; the power gets turned off; and the door gets locked.
Somehow, with the support of the Board of Supervisors, the Lee County Foundation, and many
other people, we kept the lights on, and kept going. We are closer now to the re-opening of a
hospital than we have ever been, and we are really getting excited about 2019.”
“As a relatively new member on the Board, I was not around when the Americore decision was
made. I have been amazed at the level of commitment and focus my fellow commissioners have
provided to this situation. We’re finally making real progress and you can really feel it. I am
grateful to be able to be a part of this decision that will bring health care back to the county.”
said Commissioner Travis Lawson.
“Many details have to be worked out, and the final documents between the Authority and Ballad
Health have to be approved by both Boards, but both sides are committed to re-opening a
hospital in Lee County,” said Mr. Montgomery.
The Authority plans to meet again Thursday, February 7th at the Pennington Gap Community
Center at 6:00 p.m.
For more information contact H. Ronnie Montgomery, Vice Chairman, at (276) 346-2006.
About the Lee County Hospital Authority. The Board of Supervisors created the Lee County
Hospital Authority on April 15, 2014 under Chapter 53 of Title 15.2 of the Code of Virginia.
Delegate Terry Kilgore (Scott County) introduced emergency legislation in the 2014 Session of
the General Assembly authorizing the Board of Supervisors of Lee County to create the hospital
authority. The former Lee Regional Medical Center closed on October 1, 2013 and the Authority
has maintained as its sole goal since its creation the re-opening of a hospital in Lee County.
Commissioners of the Lee County Hospital Authority are appointed by the Board of Supervisors
of the County of Lee, Virginia.