JAMESTOWN, Tenn. - A debt-ridden, rural Tennessee hospital that’s been shuttered since June 2019 received more than $121,000 in federal coronavirus relief funds, according to reports.
Jamestown Tn Medical Center Inc. received $121,722 from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Provider Relief Fund, according to a list of hospitals around the country given federal COVID-19 aid published on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s website.
The 85-bed facility in Jamestown, Fentress County, about 80 miles northwest from Knoxville, was forced to shut its doors on June 13, 2019. A federal investigation found the hospital owed more than $4 million to 200 vendors as of May 30, 2019, WVLT reported.
Hospital owner Rennova Health, Inc. still owes more than $1.2 billion in federal taxes, WBIR reported.
"It's not fair for them to direct money to a hospital that has currently no real ability to reopen and provide adequate and safe patient care," former Jamestown nurse Miah Elmore said.
A class-action lawsuit filed by employees alleged Rennova Health took Social Security and federal payroll taxes out of their paychecks but then withheld the funds from the federal government, WBIR reported. After filing their taxes last April, the employees claim that instead of receiving refund checks, the government sent letters stating there had been some sort of error.
"It's disgusting in a way," Karen Cooper, a former Jamestown nurse involved in the lawsuit, said. "There are hospitals and things that are seeing the COVID patients that could've utilized that money."
"It's another slap in the face and there's nothing we can do about it," Cooper said of the COVID-19 relief funds. "We just feel so frustrated."
According to the CDC’s website, “The bipartisan CARES Act and the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act provided $175 billion in relief funds to hospitals and other health care providers on the front lines of the coronavirus response.”
Jamestown Medical Center was included in a “list of providers that received a payment from the General Distribution, High Impact Targeted Allocation and/or the Rural Targeted Allocation of the Provider Relief Fund and who have attested to receiving one or more payments and agreed to the Terms and Conditions as of May 13, 2020.”
Rennova Health has not returned a Fox News request for comment.
According to a May 15 SEC filing, Rennova Health reported its company-owned facilities have received approximately $7.4 million from the federal COVID-19 provider relief fund, as well as another $2.3 million in the form of payroll protection loans.
"While the Company currently believes that its use of the loan proceeds will meet the conditions for forgiveness of the loans, we cannot assure you that we will not take actions that could cause the Company to be ineligible for forgiveness of the loans, in whole or in part," the filing said.
Rennova Health has IRS liens totaling more than $4.4 million against its other two hospitals in the region -- Big South Fork Medical Center in Oneida and the Jellico Community Hospital in Campbell County, WBIR reported, citing tax records.