Sheriff Joe Benison meets with Hospital Board to discuss bingo funds

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L to R: GCHS Board members: Margaret Bir, Sheriff Benison, Lucy Spann, Elmore Patterson, Jasmine Smith, Pinnia Hines, Shirley Edwards and Rosemary Edwards. Not shown are Eddie Austin and John Zippert who also attended the meeting.

Greene County Sheriff Jonathan “Joe” Benison, together with his executive assistant and bingo clerks, met with the Greene County Health System (GCHS) Board of Directors as part of their regular meeting on Tuesday, April 18, 2017. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss with the Board their concerns over the status of payments from electronic bingo parlors to the GCHS, which operates the hospital, nursing home, physicians clinic and home health services.
On June 2, 2016, Sheriff Benison adopted a new rule for bingo which stipulated that the Greene County Hospital was to receive a fee of 4% of the amount paid to vendors, who provide bingo machines, to be paid to the hospital for providing health care services to the residents of Greene County.

The Sheriff adopted this rule change as a way to share some of the revenues generated by electronic bingo, under Alabama Constitutional Amendment 743, with the Greene County Health Care System.
Based upon estimates from the bingo clerks, Elmore Patterson, CEO of the Greene County Health System projected receiving $3,500 per month from each of the four operating bingo parlors as of June 2016. This would total $14,000 per month or $168,000 per year.

The GCHS Board informed the Sheriff that since adoption of the rule in June 2016, the health facilities have not received these 4% fees from the vendors. The GCHS has received an average of $5,133 per month for the hospital and $ 1,104 per month for the residential care center (nursing home). These averages include a one-time payment of $30,000 from Greenetrack and smaller donations as a sub-charity from all of the bingo operation. The Anchor Group, the charity operating the River’s Edge Bingo facility is the only operation that has been paying the 4% vendors fee under the Sheriff’s rules.
Sheriff Benison said that he understood the Greene County Health System’s concerns with the shortfall in the 4% vendors fee.
He said that he wanted to discuss this with the bingo operators, including the Palace Bingo, a new electronic bingo hall at the Knoxville Exit on Interstate 20/59. He said that after he consults with the bingo operators that he and his clerks would report back to the GCHS Board of Directors.
Elmore Patterson thanked the Sheriff for attending the meeting and said, “Health care is critical to Greene County. The GCHS is providing quality health care to residents of Greene County and surrounding areas. I just reported to the Board that we had an overall operating loss of $538,000 for the first six months of this fiscal year, which began October 1, 2016. This loss matches the half a million dollars of uncompensated care that the GCHS provided to Greene County citizens, during the same time period, with limited incomes who lack insurance or other health care payers. We are looking to electronic bingo, the county government and others sources to help us cover our deficit which basically comes from serving the people of our county who are poor and not covered by any health insurance.”
All of the GCHS Board members also thanked the Sheriff for coming and listening to the concerns of the community. The members said they hoped to hear some positive response from the bingo establishments and the Sheriff in the coming weeks.

A renewed Greene County Health System…Part 2

By Mynecia D. Steele

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Greene County Residential Care Center residents socialize as they enjoy a balanced meal prepared by the cafeteria staff.

The Greene County Health System (GCHS) believes in reaching out to the community, says CEO, Elmore Patterson. “We are encouraging people to come to the Greene County Health System through campaigns, billboards, posters and our website,” Patterson stated.
GCHS hosts free semi-annual health fairs. These fairs are held with the intention of educating the public on health information, benefits and services that are available to them. These events are open to all, Greene County and surrounding communities alike.

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Monthly health screenings are also provided throughout the county along with diabetes classes. Many Greene County residents suffer with high blood pressure and diabetes.
Town Hall meetings are held on a quarterly bases sponsored by the Greene County Health System. These meetings allow the community to voice their opinions and bring any concerns or thoughts to the attention of the GCHS.
Patterson shared that the Greene County Health System also started the “I am Greene because . . .” campaign to give the community a chance to show their support for the health system.  One poster features Thom Smith, who says, “I am Greene because GCH saved me from a massive stroke.”
Last year, the GCHS hosted A Day of Service in Branch Heights. As a result of this service project, every child in the Branch Heights community received eye checks and general physicals before the start of the school term.
GCHS also provides meals to the elderly every November.
The Greene County Health System hopes to make its mark on Greene County.  It strives to continue working with the community and informing them about health care and health disparities affecting African Americans in most rural areas.
GCHS provides the only hospital in Greene County, therefore, it becomes the safety net hospital, said Patterson. This means that the GCHS must provide care for people who have no money, or limited resources.  Many Greene County citizens do not have healthcare. The GCHS must provide for them with no profit in return.
“The county’s health status is lacking because the state of Alabama did not expand Medicaid,” Patterson said. “We care for about 1.2 million dollars of uncompensated healthcare.  The community must work together to help with those uncompensated people,” said Patterson.
He expressed appreciation to Greenetrack, Inc. and the sheriff’s department for the help they have provided recently.
The Greene County Health System is directing more people into its primary care. By visiting a primary care center, patients have the opportunity to build a relationship with a care provider whom they can follow up with regularly.
Patients who visit primary care are also more likely to take their medication, and less likely to come into the emergency room for non-emergency services.
The Greene County Health System plans to expand by setting up a primary care clinic in Boligee.
Many people don’t realize that the Greene County Hospital is the closest emergency room in the West corridor of Alabama on I-20, which leads into Mississippi.  Therefore, the Greene County Health System cares for many motor vehicle accident victims.
If outside people are willing to put their lives in the hands of the Greene County Health System, GCHS team hopes that the citizens of Greene County will also give them a chance.
“The only way you’re going to know if its good or bad, is trying it.” Patterson said. “Trying it for yourself; not going off of a rumor. We have to get past that.  GCHS is ours. We should use the facilities and support them as well,” he emphasized.

New Charity named for River’s Edge Bingo

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Tenn Tom Community Development Incorporation donated $3,500.00 to the Greene County Hospital Friday. Pictured l to r: Mrs. Janice Benison, Mrs. Carolyne Hobbs,  GCH Chief Executive Officer,  Elmore Patterson and TTCD Executive Director Rugenia Gulley.

 

The Democrat has learned from reviewing court records and interviews with knowledgeable sources that the TennTom Development Corporation Inc. of Forkland, Alabama has replaced the Young People Alliance Association for Youth Development (YPAO) of Mantua, Alabama as the primary charity operating at River’s Edge Bingo. River’s Edge Bingo is located on U.S. Highway 11 south of the Knoxville exit on Interstate 20/59.
Court records show that the YPAO was evicted from their lease of the River’s Edge Bingo facility on June 6, 2016 for non-payment of rent. YPAO was ordered to vacate the property and surrender it to Mario and Mary Chang of Greene County Investments LP and Dynasty Investment Group LLC of Rosemead, California.
Ken Hobbs of Tuscaloosa, who is a partner in Greene County Investments and manages River’s Edge, is also mentioned in the court documents.
YPAO has appealed the eviction which is pending in Circuit Court before Judge Hardaway. YPAO was required to vacate the premises during the appeal.
Sheriff Joe Benison of Greene County, assisted by his attorney Flint Liddon of Birmingham, selected and licensed a new charity for the River’s Edge Bingo operation. Sheriff Benison is empowered by Alabama Constitutional Amendment 743 to regulate bingo in Greene County.
It is worthy of note that the Sheriff did not make any public announcement of this choice of a new charity nor did he solicit nominations from the public of non-profit charitable organizations that may be interested in operating bingo in Greene County.
The TennTom Development Corporation is a non-profit operating in Forkland and the lower reaches of Greene County. Finest Miles and other board members of this charity are family members of the Sheriff.
The Democrat has also learned that the Tommy Summerville Law Enforcement Foundation may be under consideration as a co-charity with TennTom Development Corporation in the operation of the River’s Edge Bingo. This foundation named for the now deceased former Police Chief of Eutaw was established to provide equipment and support for law enforcement in Eutaw and Greene County.
Greenetrack CEO Luther “Nat” Winn has stated to the Democrat many times that, “Greenetrack is the only bingo facility in Greene County, owned by Greene County people and dedicated to the needs of Greene County. The other bingo facilities are owned by people, from as far away as California and elsewhere that are not as concerned about Greene County people, charities and organizations as they should be.”
Many people contacted for this story, expressed concern that the bingo operations in Greene County were not operated in any open, fair and transparent way to fully benefit the people of Greene County.