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Bankruptcy trustee says court erred in NRMC appointment

The office of the United States Trustee recently filed a motion with the federal bankruptcy court of Nevada claiming the appointment of Nye Regional Medical Center’s Patient Care Ombudsman (PCO) Jerry Seelig as the Tonopah hospital’s responsible officer in the case may be against the law.

The motion, filed May 23, asks that his appointment be reconsidered by the court, stating that because Seelig started as a court-appointed PCO with the hospital prior to his appointment to replace CEO Dr. Vincent Scoccia as the hospital’s responsible officer in parent company Primecare Nevada Inc.’s bankruptcy case last month, he is no longer an unbiased party in the matter. The motion claims that according to bankruptcy code, an outside, unaffiliated third-party must be appointed if the original responsible officer is relieved of their financial and administrative duties within the organization.

“The United States Trustee represents that the Court’s Order appointing the Patient Care Ombudsman, Jerry Seelig, as the Debtor’s designated representative is a manifest error of law,” the motion states. “Under the Bankruptcy Code only a disinterested person can serve in this capacity due to the fiduciary duties owed to the estate and its creditors. This person must be a Chapter 11 trustee rather than a former PCO stepping into the shoes of the Debtor’s representative. Section 1104 spells out the duties of a trustee as well as the qualifications required. By serving as a PCO Mr. Seelig has become an insider and is no longer disinterested as a matter of law. The Court must amend its order and appoint a disinterested Chapter 11 trustee in Mr. Seelig’s place.”

Seelig was appointed to the position on May 7 after an attorney for Nye County filed a motion asking that the hospital’s owner and top administrator, Scoccia, be removed from all financial and administrative duties. The county’s motion claimed he had been mismanaging the hospital since he filed for bankruptcy protection in December, and had made a number of questionable fund transfers to his own business interests, including companies named Owie Boo-Boo and Tuna Park LTD, even after agreeing not to transfer any more money to those entities.

A hearing on the question of Seelig’s appointment is scheduled for June 24 at 10:30 a.m. in Las Vegas.

In the meantime, on June 6 the court appointed Daniel T. McMurray, managing director of Focus Management Group USA Inc. out of Tampa, Fla., to replace Seelig as the hospital’s PCO.

According to information filed by McMurray with the court, his firm specializes in managing and turning around distressed health care businesses as well as advising other parties who are involved in such situations.

McMurray says he has more than 35 year’s experience working as a hospital administrator and executive officer in hospitals ranging in size from 25 to 1,700 beds.

Since Seelig’s appointment as the hospital’s responsible officer in the bankruptcy case, he and Charles Hicks, who works with the management group currently overseeing change at the hospital, have announced multiple new additions as they work to improve NRMC’s service to the Tonopah community.

In the last several weeks, Seelig and Hicks have announced multiple staffing changes, including the hiring of several former hospital employees who have agreed to return to the medical center.

Dr. Brock Boscovich, a graduate of Tonopah High School and the University of Nevada, Reno medical school, is one of several new medical personnel recently brought on board at NRMC.

Two former NRMC nurses have also been asked to return to the hospital as well. Jessica Thompson has been hired as the director of nursing and Theresa Skiles Campbell will assume the title of assistant director of nursing.

Former hospital administrator Cathy Clifford has also been hired on as the hospital’s new accounting consultant as well.

In addition to staffing changes, the hospital has also revamped its billing and collections process bringing it in house. Seelig said the staff is working to provide “a good clean bill” before it is sent out and excessive charges from the past are now being thoroughly examined.

Looking toward the future Seelig said one of his primary goals is to establish a full-time clinic at NRMC.

Seelig said they are also working to create a medical campus at the hospital, which would include food service, something he said is necessary to have when patients are being admitted and staff needs to be served on site.

As they continue to look for ways to improve the hospital, Seelig said they are currently seeking specialists for community patients.

A community needs assessment is also being looked into through the University of Nevada and its medical school, Seelig said.

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