Employees dealt another blow in rural hospital closure

Department of Labor asked to audit facility
Posted at 3:13 PM, Jun 19, 2019
and last updated 2019-06-19 23:13:11-04

JAMESTOWN, Tenn. (WTVF) — When Jamestown Regional Hospital shutdown last week, 150 employees were immediately out of jobs, but now those employees appear to have been dealt another devastating blow. Most are realizing they can't get unemployment benefits.

For the last six months, Rennova Health which owns Jamestown Regional, has been deducting money from employees paychecks for health insurance, unemployment insurance and even social security. But dozens of employees have been contacting state officials saying the company never sent that money to the state or the IRS.

Laid off doctors, nurses and other staff are finding out they can't get unemployment benefits because the money deducted from their paycheck was apparently not sent to the Department of Labor.

Even worse, many are finding out they don't have health insurance coverage. Some employees have even reported being sent audits by the IRS after filing income tax returns.

"They violated the law and they should be held to account for it," said State Representative John Mark Windle on Wednesday.

Rep. Windle said the closing of the hospital, which is in his district, left residents in shock.

"It's devastating, we have to have a hospital. We can not lose the hospital. The system is broken and something has to be done," he added.

After hearing from dozens of laid-off employees, Rep. Windle contacted the Tennessee Deparment of Labor calling on them to conduct a full audit in the practices of Rennova Health.

In response to his letter, Department Spokesman Chris Cannon sent this statement to NewsChannel 5.

Senior staff with the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development is currently working with Rennova, the owners of Jamestown Regional Medical Center, to ensure former employees are able to file for unemployment insurance benefits.

Today, the Department continues to work with its local workforce partner in Fentress County, along with the Fentress County mayor, to organize the deployment of a Rapid Response Team to Jamestown. The event is tentatively set up for Friday, June 21. The group has yet to determine a time and location for the event.

The Rapid Response Team works with dislocated workers to revise resumes, inform them of training opportunities, and to help the workers with job searches. All these services are free of charge and open to anyone needing assistance.

You can read more of Chris' reporting on the closure of Jamestown Regional Hospital here.

The Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development will send a rapid response team to Fentress County June 21 to help workers who were affected by Jamestown Regional Medical Center's closing.

The event will take place from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Fentress County Courthouse.

At the event, the Upper Cumberland American Job Center will help dislocated workers at the medical center update their resumes, talk about free job training and get the new job search process underway.

Dislocated workers will also have resources made to available to help them apply for unemployment insurance benefits. Workers who need to file a claim must bring their 2018 W-2, their last pay stub for 2019 showing year to date earnings, and two forms of ID.