April 29, 2002 – With Roy L. Schneider Hospital and Myrah Keating Smith Community Health Center owed big bucks by former patients, the district governing board of the two facilities has contracted two mainland collection companies to try to track them down.
For the St. John center alone, "It's in the hundreds of thousands, if not more than that," said Erica McDonald, administrator at Myrah Keating Smith.
Eugene Walsh, financial director at Schneider Hospital, did not return a telephone call requesting information about how much is owned the hospital.
McDonald said that because the hospital and health center are semi-autonomous, they rely on revenues to support their operations. "We're no different from WAPA or Innovative," she said, referring to the Water and Power Authority and the local telephone company.
Amcol Systems Inc. of Columbia, South Carolina, will deal with accounts 60 to 120 days past due, McDonald said, and Medical Data Systems Inc. of Vero Beach, Fla., will try to collect accounts older than that days. Both were contracted through a competitive bidding process.
Anyone with an older unpaid account who has worked out a payment plan with either facility will not be bothered by the collection agencies, McDonald said, "unless they miss a month."
She said outstanding Myrah Keating Smith bills date back to 1998. They go no farther because the health center recently wrote off as bad debts everything owed from before that date.
According to a news release from the governing board, the collection companies will attempt to contact the patients, advise them of the outstanding amount due and make appropriate payment arrangements based on their ability to pay.
McDonald said Myrah Keating Smith hired a consultant to pull together information on unpaid bills. The information is coming from an old billing system as well as a new one, and to gather information from both was beyond the scope of what the hospital staff could accomplish. She said the consultant, a computer programmer, is still putting together the data on what people owe the health center.
The collection companies will be paid a percentage of what they collect, she said, but she did not have that figure available.
Anyone wanting help with an outstanding Schneider Hospital account should call account specialists Nicole Raimer at 886-8311, ext. 2171, or Marvo Russell at 776-8311, ext. 2173. For help regarding Myrah Keating Smith accounts, call Wanda Moseley at 693-8900.
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