RMCH deal complicated by debt to city

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GALLUP, N.M. – For more than a year, KOB 4 has followed the Rehoboth McKinley Christian Hospital through a labor and delivery unit closure, investigations, lawsuits, and severe financial trouble.

Recently, the hospital closed on a $6.78 million sale of its remaining properties in Gallup, to McKinley County. The county also forgave nearly $2 million in back-rent, owed by the hospital. The solution was meant to save RMCH from closing for good and provide enough cashflow to stay on its feet, but it has not come without complications.

The City of Gallup placed liens on the three properties, totaling more than $200,000, in a move to collect on outstanding utility bills.

The hospital used its new cash from the county to pay that off right away, but this did spark a conversation with hospital, county, and city leaders on how to best move forward together in a way that will not affect the hospital’s ability to care for patients.

City leaders say that includes not shutting off water and electric.

“We’re going to be a unified front,” a city representative said during a public meeting Tuesday evening. “Nobody here wants to see us lose our community hospital. I think we’ve come up with some great ideas that I think we just need to follow through with this now.”

After paying off bills with the city and a loan from Texas, RMCH board chairman Bill Lee told KOB 4 the hospital is left with about $2.3 million.

He said their plan of action is to fill the three open seats on the hospital board and continue to chip away at the rest of their debts.

Lee also said he hopes the hospital will reach financial stability before the end of the year.

“I think we’re on a far better path than we have been over the past, you know, six or seven months, and so it’s really good to have this kind of cooperation,” he said. “Everybody has finally got their oars in the water, and we’re all rowing together to do what’s best for our community to keep our hospital open.”

The past several months have been some of the hardest for this hospital, but even harder for its patients. Some of those patients have come forward with stories about their recent and worrisome visits to RMCH.

Brianna Wilson will share more tonight on the Nightbeat.