JACKSON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - How will Singing River Health System bail its retirement fund out of what's being called a calamity? Its employee pension plan can no longer afford the $18 to $20 million a year it takes to make payments to retirees.
"The plan should have been funded through those years. And I'm disappointed that it wasn't," said SRHS CEO Kevin Holland.
Holland has been CEO of Singing River Health System since March. After taking over, he quickly realized that as far back as 2009, his company discontinued payments into the retirement plan. Consequently, he admits the pension fund is running out of money.
"About two years ago it got really off track. And it should have been communicated. It wasn't. I can't explain that," Holland said.
Over the last several days, retirees and employees have been asking questions, and holding meetings. They're looking for answers, and so is Holland.
"I've been transparent. I've been open. I've been honest. And immediately when I started dealing with this retirement plan, and saw the shape it was in and it was only 48 percent funded, I took action," said Holland.
SRHS retirees are supposed to receive 50 percent to 70 percent of their top pay at the time they left the company. Holland says it's premature to talk about what retirees will get going forward.
"There is still a lot to be told on this story yet. We're working as hard as we can to try and preserve this benefit as best we can. But we've got to balance it with what we can sustain going forward," said Holland.
The CEO also says $88 million in patient bills Singing River failed to collect is a factor in the retirement plan funding crisis. In the WLOX News This Week interview, Holland called SRHS's financial crisis "the perfect storm" of funding issues.
You can see the full interview we did with Singing River Health System's CEO Sunday morning at 8:30 on WLOX News This Week as well as