SHERIDAN, Mich. (WOOD) — Those tasked with leading a Montcalm County hospital once on the brink of closing believe there’s positive movement forward.
Earlier this month, Sheridan Community Hospital announced the resignation of its board in order to restructure hospital leadership. Dr. Mark Clark and area entrepreneur Jerry Rizqallah were named new executives.
The hospital is also forming an advisory board made up of community members. Applications are still being accepted through the hospital’s website.
“Because of the community involvement, because of our belief that it’s a strong hospital with lots of good infrastructure… Jerry, Mark and I and a lot of other community leaders thought that it was well worth the effort to try to keep the hospital open and so we’ve done that,” Scott Brown told News 8 Monday.
Brown is a physician’s assistant and executive director at Samaritan Health Care, PC. He and Dr. Clark started the Greenville-based group, which took over patient services at SCH in July.
“When (Dr. Clark) and I first started walking through with the old CEO, we’d walk through in the hallway and there was no patients or maybe one,” Brown recounted. “And I’m not putting blame anywhere there, but I’m just saying that was the situation.”
For months, employees and community members told Target 8 about concerns the hospital might close for good. Brown admitted the situation was dire recently, but there has been progress since the summer that brings renewed optimism to the rural Montcalm County resource.
“Our biggest obstacle is taking a look at some of the decisions that have been made in the past and how we can change that and then recuperate as far as increased patients,” he explained. “There have been some changes already. The revenue is increasing already and some of the specialists are coming back, so we want to make sure that we maintain those jobs and grow.”
Brown didn’t name names, but said several people who left the hospital in recent months and years have shown interest in coming back since the change in leadership.
‘I’VE BEEN SOBER SINCE 2011’
Brown’s history has been the center of some conversations surrounding the new group serving SCH patients.
The Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs placed him on probation in 2001 after he pleaded guilty to “falsifying prescriptions for Vicodin for personal use,” according to state records.
His license was revoked by the state in 2012 for a similar case. Brown “forged approximately 100 prescriptions for methadone and hydrocodone… in order to maintain the medications for his personal use.”
Brown said he’s proud to say he’s been sober for more than eight years. He said his addiction has shaped how he approaches care.
“I don’t keep my past a secret. I use it to put a face and voice to recovery,” he said. “I’m using everything I’ve been through with my own addiction and everything that came with that to show people that recovery can happen, that people can get their licenses back, that people can remain sober.”
Substance abuse treatment is one area Samaritan focuses on while also providing primary care and mental health services in Greenville, Big Rapids, Reed City and Charlevoix.
Brown said SCH has been called on to develop a withdrawal management program since Samaritan took over. He believes the hospital has the infrastructure to support such a program.
“There have been other organizations that reached out to us and want to partner with us in some way,” Brown said, but added nothing is concrete yet.
In addition to confirming Brown is compliant with his license stipulations, LARA told News 8 the hospital is in good standing with the state after an Oct. 2 visit to Sheridan.