Community health clinic emerges from bankruptcy

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Photo provided Beloit Area Community Health Center CEO Julie Sprecher, center, signs the final check to be paid to Community Health Systems' creditors while being surrounded by staff members and providers, including (from left) Ana Montoya, Dr. Naheed Ahmad, Dr. John Tran, Kimberly Penticoff, Caryn Davis, Katrisa Hilliard and Dina Douglas on Monday.

BELOIT - Community Health Systems, Inc. (CHS) is officially out of financial troubles as CEO Julie Sprecher signed the final checks to creditors on Monday.

The health system, which oversees the Beloit Area Community Health Center (BACHC) in Beloit, is completing its bankruptcy plan a year ahead of schedule. Sprecher said the original plan had CHS paying off its debt in July of 2020. Sprecher said the health system will start its next fiscal year beginning on July 1 free and clear.

The health system emerged from bankruptcy last year after years of financial issues. It filed for bankruptcy protection in March of 2014 after CHS reported a $1 million deficit.

Sprecher called the completion of CHS's bankruptcy plan stabilizing after having been in crisis for so many years.

"It's surreal to think about how four or five years ago we weren't sure the clinic would still be here," Sprecher said. "To know that we're still here, looking to expand and offering excellent services from our providers is such a milestone."

In addition to this accomplishment, CHS also has completed its three-year strategic plan that will take the health system through 2022. Sprecher said the health system's board will vote on the plan next month.

The plan includes expanding BACHC's services, giving patients' more access to those services, increasing marketing efforts to the patient population and further developing community collaborations.

Sprecher said the strategic plan includes expanding its behavioral health clinic to include drug and alcohol therapy by the end of 2020. She said the dual mental health program is necessary due to the opioid epidemic facing the Stateline Area and the rest of the nation.

"We also have the philosophy of treating both the addiction but also treating the underlying issues that caused the addiction is more successful for the patient," Sprecher said.

The behavioral health clinic was created in collaboration with Rock County, whose counselors were seeing patients on the other side of the former mall complex in Beloit. All of the former patients seen by Rock County counselors are now seen at BACHC.

She said the health system also is considering expanding since it's currently at maximum capacity in terms of space and service areas.

The health system reached another milestone this year, in that the center is celebrating its 20th anniversary.

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