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AG, Blackfoot PD continue investigation into Bingham Memorial

Viewers and local people have been calling into our station for weeks with questions about the investigation into Bingham Memorial Hospital.

“Is it still happening?” many asked.

On Tuesday night, Blackfoot Police Chief Dave Moore said his department and the Idaho Attorney General’s Office continue to actively investigate the nonprofit hospital.

Moore would not comment further.

Blackfoot police started investigating at the end of May and the attorney general came on board in July, after allegations surfaced ranging from Medicaid fraud to a former manager who allegedly ran a scheme to profit off of the hospital’s time and money.

In June, Bingham County Prosecutor Scott Andrew asked the Attorney General’s Office to take over the criminal investigation when Bingham Memorial filed a tort claim against two county officials, alleging they conspired with the media to oust administrators and board members.

Erik Stidham, attorney for Bingham Memorial Hospital, said the board asked his law firm, Boise-based Holland & Hart, LLP, to conduct an internal investigation into the allegations.

Stidham said that investigation, too, is ongoing. He said the firm is communicating with the board to make sure the scope of the investigation is properly defined.

Bingham Memorial is also involved with two other area hospitals. It manages Lost Rivers Medical Center in Arco and acts as a consultant for Teton Valley Hospital in Driggs.

Teton Valley board member Bob Benedict said negotiations to have Bingham Memorial take over management of Teton Valley were halted in June and have been tabled for six-months.

Benedict said deferring the possible business affiliation has nothing to do with the ongoing investigation into Bingham Memorial. Rather, he said, it’s because both hospitals have a lot going on and need to prioritize.

Benedict cited Teton Valley’s ongoing conversion from a county-owned hospital to a nonprofit, and working to get electronic medical records in place.

But they also have changes in administration. When former CEO Virgil Boss’ contract was up for renewal, Benedict said the board chose not to renew it. Instead they hired Keith Gnagey, who had been on the board since October 2011.

“Keith’s strong point is he’s run his own business (and) consulted in the health care industry,” said Benedict. “(He’s) also very strong on the administration side.”

Benedict said the board felt Gnagey has the qualifications needed to complete the conversion to a nonprofit. He also said as a small hospital it’s hard to have all the expertise needed, so they do plan to enter into a management services agreement with another entity, whether it’s Bingham Memorial or not.

According to a press release on the Teton Valley Health Care website, those discussions should resume in January 2013.

Since our stories about Bingham Memorial Hospital broke in May and June, people have continued to bring information and tips to our attention. We have passed those along to proper authorities, but have not aired them in order to let investigators do their jobs.

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