Medicare Jeopardy for Lawrence Medical Center; Management Team Submits Plans for Fixes

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The interim Chief Executive Officer of Lawrence Medical Center in Moulton is trying to calm fears from a notice that appeared in the newspapers this week.

It notified the public that Medicare would no longer pay for services for patients at Lawrence Medical Center as of June.

It's a small rural hospital that houses an average of 18 to 20 patients on any given day, but its interim CEO, Cary Payne, insists Lawrence Medical Center is important.

"If you look at the map," said Cary Payne, "If that hospital were to be taken out of North Alabama, there would be a fairly sizable hole for impatient services for North Alabama."

Payne was hired last October to help the hospital navigate muddy waters left behind by the former management team.

Payne says simply put, last year the hospital added an MRI Suite, but there were problems with how it was built and management did not get approval from the Alabama Health Department to add it.

The current management team self-reported the problems.

Recently, an inspector for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid visited the hospital and listed it as in "Immediate Jeopardy".

Payne says the team acted quickly to submit plans to fix the problems.

"We implemented several things to mitigate, take the 'immediate jeopardy' status off," he said.

He explained the state contacted the hospital Monday to tell them they approved their corrective plans and would recommend to the federal government to lift the jeopardy.

Moving forward, Payne said the hospital is in talks with Huntsville Hospital and Regionalcare for a possible management contract.

Meanwhile, workers have added extra emergency lighting, redundant systems and other things to insure safety of staff, patients and visitors to the hospital.

Payne expects to get official word the hospital is in the clear by Wednesday.

Otherwise, Medicare would have ceased their coverage for patients at LMC on June 2nd.