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Hospital, county mediate funding of indigent care

Maybe a meeting outside the county lines is what it took.

Though the final outcome of a mediation between representatives of Bryan Whitfield Memorial Hospital and the Marengo County Commission could not be confirmed at press tim, one key player in the negotiation process felt optimistic about a long-running lawsuit between the two entities.

More than a year ago, the hospital sued the County Commission, claiming the Commission was not fulfilling its financial obligation for indigent care. (Indigent care takes place when the hospital treats a patient who cannot pay for the care.)

As part of the reported financial troubles of the hospital, members of the board decided last year to sue the county over the indigent care issue, seeking to recoup some of the money spent providing indigent care.

County commissioners responded to the suit by claiming all indigent patients treated at Bryan Whitfield Memorial Hospital were not from Marengo County. In that case, the commission should not be held liable for non-residents who cannot pay their hospital bills.

Mike Marshall, the new CEO of the Demopolis hospital, said the mediation at a Montgomery law firm between his hospital and the County Commission was "productive."

Because the process was ongoing before press time, it is unclear whether or not the two sides came to a formal agreement, putting the legal issues to rest. At the same time, Marshall said he would not be able to discuss a possible resolution until next week.

Attending the mediation for the hospital were Marshall, Art Evans and Tom Perry &045; a member of the board. Most county commissioners also were present at the mediation.