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Leaders rally for Forum

Published: Fri, November 13, 2009 @ 12:01 a.m.

Several crucial dates in Forum Health’s bankruptcy are coming up. They include:

- Today: Bids from potential buyers of part or all of the Forum Health health-care system to determine if one or more of its facilities can be sold to pay off the creditors in full, in cash.

- Nov. 30: By this date, Forum must obtain the creditors’ agreement on whether a merger and acquisition process (sell assets) or a plan of reorganization will continue to be pursued.

- Jan. 15: Forum’s use of cash collateral expires.

Source: U.S. Bankruptcy Court records



YOUNGSTOWN — It is in the Mahoning Valley’s best interest for Forum Health to emerge from bankruptcy intact, say several of the region’s elected officials.

“We are very concerned that an outside investor might come in and break up the system. We want to send a strong message we are opposed to that,” said Youngstown Mayor Jay Williams on the eve of the deadline to submit bids to buy part or all of the Forum Health system.

Today is the deadline for the bids of potential buyers of Forum Health.

Williams and others talked about Forum and its value to the area at a press conference Thursday hosted by state Rep. Robert Hagan in front of Northside Medical Center on Gypsy Lane.

“We will need Forum Health to provide services when health-care reform becomes a reality; the community needs the 1,400 jobs Northside provides, and the city needs the $1.5 million in income-tax revenue it provides annually. We have to make sure Forum’s creditors understand the importance of the jobs and services provided by Forum Health,” said Hagan, of Youngstown, D-60th.

Hagan was joined by state Rep. Sandra Stabile Harwood of Niles, D-65th, and state Sens. Joe Schiavoni of Canfield, D-33rd, and Capri Cafaro of Liberty, D-32nd, as well as a number of sign-carrying Northside employees and Walter “Buzz” Pishkur, former Forum president and chief executive officer, who did not speak.

Williams said the city has filed a brief with the federal bankruptcy court as an interested party in the Forum case, and he would welcome an opportunity to testify as to the value of the health-care system to the city and the entire area.

The mayor said he has not met with Forum’s new CEO but has talked with Forum’s management and board of trustees to make sure they understand how important he thinks Forum is to the area.

“I believe the community is owed much in this case,” he said.

Cafaro said her office was “flooded with calls” after the placement of full-page ads in The Vindicator by the Ohio Nurses Association’s Youngstown General Duty Nurses Association at Northside urging elected officials to “speak out before it is too late.”

“We are listening and understand the value of the health care and jobs provided by Forum,” she said.

“We’re here to support the workers and choice in health care,” Schiavoni added.

He said his hope is that a number of good bids for Forum Health are received and that the investors will keep the hospital system together.

The bids will not be made public, said Forum lawyer Shawn Riley.

Williams said, however, he does not understand why the bids cannot be made public. He intends to have the city’s law director look into the matter.

Another key, fast-approaching deadline in the Forum bankruptcy case is Nov. 30, by which time the creditors and Forum are to agree on one of two paths: continue the reorganization process and keep the system operating intact, or sell its assets.

Eric Williams, president of the Northside nurses union, said Youngstown’s filing a brief with the court as an interested party is “positive and totally appropriate.”

He said the community has expectations that should an entity purchase Forum that it would continue to not only keep the system together but expand services.

Meanwhile, U.S. Reps. Timothy Ryan and Charlie Wilson and Sen. Sherrod Brown have offered their assistance to Forum Health’s new interim chief executive officer, Charles Neumann, “in moving Forum out of bankruptcy and preserving its services, facilities and jobs.”

In a letter to Neumann dated Thursday, the three outlined the urgency of pulling Forum out of bankruptcy and the devastating effects that would result in the event of the facilities’ closing.

“It is important that we work to ensure the success of Northside Medical Center, Hillside Rehabilitation Hospital and Trumbull Memorial Hospital. A strong Forum Health system is valuable to our community, and we have an obligation to keep it operational,” Ryan said.

“We are particularly concerned about how the closing of any of the Forum facilities would impact health care locally, as well as the economic effect of such a closing,” they said in their joint statement. “As the second-largest employer in the area, not only is Forum a crucial source of health care, it also has a significant impact on our local economy. An employer of Forum’s size not only affects its own employees directly but its retirees and the thousands of other workers and businesses that offer the products and services within its supply chain.”

Forum Health filed in March for protection under Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code, which gives the company an opportunity to reorganize.



1joebag09(354 comments)posted 6 years, 8 months ago

A mayor that sits on the board of HMHP?? Sounds like a conflicted interest!

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2UnionForever(1470 comments)posted 6 years, 8 months ago

Northside needs to CLOSE! The valley can no longer support so many hospitals. St. Elizabeth is #1 and that is all the valley needs today with the huge population drop over the past 30 years after the steelmills closed and all the good paying jobs went away. The politicians need to recognize that fact and it's time for them to budget accordingly. Y-town will never be the same and so Northside needs to just go away with it's 1400 jobs. Not even my union brothers can save these jobs in this economic scenario.

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3aspin444(24 comments)posted 6 years, 8 months ago

Thank you Reps Cafaro, Hagan, Schiavoni, Brown, Wilson, Mayor Williams and others for actively supporting Forum Health at the press conference yesterday. It proved your great interest in this valley and keeping the opportunity for healthcare choices, access and/or jobs in the community. The three-year business plan that all employees worked hard on in the past nine months was approved by the Huron Group, (hired by Forum to assist in the restructuring process) details financial success for all three Hospitals and keeps area businesses open as well. Any other plan that would result in hospital or small business closures would be unacceptable to this valley.
Let us continue to speak up before it is too late.

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4timOthy(802 comments)posted 6 years, 8 months ago

Shut it down ! Williams is looking after himself in this manner. St. E's is good enough to handle all of Younstown medical needs. You know people if you research all Politicans and the Boards the set on you'd fine alot of cronism and it's not just in Mahoning County it's every where. That's on page ONE of the Political Science book.Union forever I don't know what Union you belong to but there power is gone ! I pay dues when I don't work and still pay now that I'm retired like all the Crafts do. Of course were just dumb Tradesmen who built this Country. And where does Williams get off telling a Company how to run there bussness. Not only is he a Scab,but a Rat also. I'm sorry Hospital Employees,but times are changing. I hopeful St.E's will pick up some of you.

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5JeffLebowski(953 comments)posted 6 years, 8 months ago

I can appreciate filing the brief but there is no reason bids should/would be made public. The notion of the community being "owed" also seems flawed, if anything I'd say that statement should be inverted...

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6joebag09(354 comments)posted 6 years, 8 months ago

Chances are...there won't be any bids. St. Ez. can't handle the load, PERIOD!. All those who want Northside closed...I wonder what you'd be saying if it was you or your family that was involved? Northside is doing business...they are treating patients and doing it well. If it wasn't for all the negative publicity, they'd probably be doing even better. Under Mr. Pishkur, they've improved more then under anyone in the last 15-20 years. Good luck Forum, you'll beat out the nay sayers!

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7joebag09(354 comments)posted 6 years, 8 months ago

NachoCheese.....can't totally disagree with you, but I absolutely do about Northside vs. TMH. If TMH was in such "good" shape why do you think they merged? Where do you think TMH got the cardiology program technology? I also don't agree about the unions "drain". This whole fiasco, if you have any reliable knowledge of it, was BAD management for years.

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