By John McLoughlin
Episcopal Health Services, the mother organization of St. John's Episcopal Hospital, filed Chapter 11 of the bankruptcy law on Monday, November 15. Reverend Orris G. Walker, jr., president and chairman of the EHS board, said "it's business as usual while we work to restructure our debt."
EHS' administration notified employees of St. John's in a memo, explaining to them that EHS "is not going out of business." According to the memo, the court approved continuation of EHS' health and benefit programs, but vendors and suppliers will have to wait for payments due prior to the filing until the court approves a plan of reorganization.
One positive feature of Chapter 11 is "debtor-in-possession" financing, which will allow EHS to enter into a definitive loan agreement. "Pending court approval, this new financing will ensure that we have adequate funds to order goods on a timely basis and continue operating in the ordinary course of business," Walker said.
Employees of St. John's expressed concern, but believe the "path is clear for St. John's to strengthen." Gerald Nordenberg of 1199 Health and Human Service Employees Union said employees are "working to ensure the survival of the institution." Nordenberg said EHS did not make the $150,000 payment to the 1199 Benefit Fund on November 15, but said "we have Bishop Walker's word that benefits and pay will be paid on a timely fashion" and they are "proceeding as if their word is good."
EHS ensured the public that the Chapter 11 filing will not affect staffing and patients' needs.