SRHS Pension Crisis Continues; Checks May Stop in 2 Weeks

The Singing River Health System (S.R.H.S.) pension crisis has been ongoing since October of 2014, but still the health system has not released any official documents requested by attorneys and media, nor allowed any officials to be called in for testimony.

Now retirees’ checks may stop in the next two weeks as the health system drags its feet. The S.R.H.S. litigation is tied up once again. Harvey Barton, lawyer representing the retirees, says, “The Supreme Court has issued a stay of everything that can happen in all the cases involved.”

While attorneys wait on the Mississippi Supreme Court to rule on which judge should oversee the state cases, time is slipping away on an order requiring S.R.H.S. to pay retirees their pension checks. If the Jackson County Board of Supervisors and S.R.H.S. Board of Trustees don’t agree on an extension by March 15th, retirees don’t get their checks. Barry Cumbest, Jackson County Supervisor, says, “People think we’re being too slow, but there is so much information to take in and so many different things to look at. The pension plan, we really want to get to the bottom of that, and come up with some more options, but you have the health of the hospital that’s directly tied in with that.”

Those fighting S.R.H.S. say regardless of the next step of the S.R.H.S. legal team, they’ll continue to focus on protecting the retirees and their checks coming home each month. Barton also says, “Unfortunately, the attorneys for the hospital are not willing to cooperate with Mr. Denham and myself in terms of making that happen, so I told them today that if they don’t include us in the process, we’re going to start filing T.R.O.s again”

T.R.O.s, or temporary restraining orders, would ensure the pension plan is not terminated, even if the Board of Supervisors and trustees can’t make a decision, but the supervisors promise they are working hard to find a solution.

Cumbest closes, “We are working. We are working all we can. I know there’s not a day gone by that we don’t spend time on this. I spend time on this every day.”

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