LAUDERDALE COUNTY, Tenn. — More bad news for residents of Lauderdale County this week after the emergency room was shutdown for the second time due to not having a doctor available.
In a statement sent to WREG, Lauderdale Community Hospital’s CEO Michael Layfield said the hospital went on diversion around 7 a.m. Friday and will continue to be closed until at least 7 a.m. Saturday.
On Wednesday, when the emergency room was closed for the first time this week, Layfield told us patients with true emergencies were being stabilized there at the hospital and then transported to nearby facilities. It’s unclear if that’s the case during the current diversion period as well.
Earlier this week Layfield refused to say whether the doctor shortage was because of staff not being paid, but he confirmed on Friday that it was all due to a lack of money.
“We have experienced cash flow issues and were not able to make payment the ER doctors scheduled to work,” he said in an email Friday. “We have a large payment coming next Tuesday from a Medicare cost report. We will be able to catch up on payroll, many of our other Payables at that time and reopen services.”
One person who wished not to be identified told us Wednesday that doctors had not been paid in two months.
If this all sounds familiar, you’re correct. In December 2018, WREG started asking questions after several employees contacted us saying they had not received their paychecks for some time.
“Over the last couple of weeks we’ve had some delays in payroll,” Layfield told us at the time. “We have never not met payroll.”
“It’s not right to let them go without pay,” said Brian Waits, whose wife is a nurse at the hospital. “I’m not going to name names, but some of these employees have had to borrow money to pay bills. So it’s digging them into a deeper hole.”
WREG dug deeper and found some more disturbing news: According to records, for the tax years 2016 through 2018, Lauderdale Community owes the city of Ripley $186,709.00 in back taxes. It also owes $164,985.50 in back taxes to Lauderdale County.