Death Throes or Phoenix? A Health Center Resists Its Own Passing

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August 25, 2014; Baltimore Sun

As debts mount, the 44-year-old People’s Community Health Centers in Baltimore, which closed its five health clinics two months ago, insists that it will try to come back. But its largest grant, amounting to $2.4 million a year from the Health Services Resources Administration to treat uninsured patients, has been withdrawn, and HSRA is in the midst of a competition to redistribute that money to other health centers that have picked up PCHC patients.

The clinics were shuttered in June, but just this month, the IRS filed a second lien for $438,274.58 for unpaid taxes, which, added to one filed in May for $463,925.62, brings its debt to the IRS to almost $1 million. There have been 33 complaints filed over violations of wage and labor laws at the state’s Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation. There are also lawsuits from creditors, including a community bank, a landscaper and the city of Baltimore. Still, Andrew Sindler, attorney for People’s, said Monday that the nonprofit hopes to reorganize under a different name and with new investors after it pays off or settles its debts.

The People’s board president, Dr. Carlos Zigel, says that the board and some employees are in the middle of planning to revive the organization. He believes that the organization will be able to attract new funding sources because patient care at People’s was always top-notch.—Ruth McCambridge