Singing River Health System retirees head to court for pension battle

Singing River Health System retirees head to court for pension battle

JACKSON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - It's two days before Christmas and Santa is the last thing on many of the Singing River Health System's retirees' and employees' minds. They are more concerned about their retirement checks after the hospital system didn't fund their pension plan since 2009, never told them and now wants to terminate and liquidate the pension.

"People are worried. They don't want to spend things at Christmas. People are not even having family Christmas dinners. I have been told they are saving every penny they have in case the administration goes ahead and dissolves the plan," supporter Windy Taylor said.

Dozens of retirees and employees came to court Tuesday wearing "Do the Right Thing" shirts in hopes of another temporary restraining order being issued to keep the plan in place.

Former employee Howard Lee Bosarge, who worked for SRHS 16 years, is the one asking for the TRO.

"My plan was to retiree at 60 years old, which I did, and by not getting a pension check, it defeats that. It is going to force me to go back to work," Bosarge said.

The judge in the case decided to postpone Bosarge's hearing.

"The judge, in a sense of fairness, he wants to give notice to the hospital to come here and be heard and participate in the hearing," retiree attorney Harvey Barton said.

There are also some lawsuits against Singing River Health System in federal court.

"We want the plan to be refunded, certainly. If we are not fighting the fight now and they terminate the plan, the county owes no more money under the terms of the plan. We have to stop that from happening," Barton said.

This retiree who worked at the hospital since the 1980s agrees and says she just wants the money that was promised to her.

"That would be enough for me. I am not trying to bring the hospital down. I just want the people who are responsible for not contributing to the fund," a retiree said.

Another TRO is still active in the case of retiree Maury Thompson.

The judge ruled Tuesday that no further action will be taken in that case, because it is now in federal court.

WLOX did contact Singing River Health System, but was unable to reach them for comment.

CEO Kevin Holland has maintained that the hospital system has been very open and transparent with their owners about the financial and operational challenges since the $88 million audit adjustment announcement in March of this year, and says they will continue to do so.

The health system has also entered into a 90 day memorandum of agreement with the Jackson County Board of Supervisors to continue to jointly seek viable options to address the system's financial and operating pressures, including its pension plan.

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