SOUTH PORTLAND — With the blessing of state officials, Jackson Brook Institute filed a Chapter 11 bankruptcy petition Friday as part of a plan to maintain operations while seeking a buyer for the private psychiatric hospital.
Human Services Commissioner Kevin Concannon met with reporters at the psychiatric hospital to spell out the agreement reached earlier in the day with its Massachusetts-based owner, Community Care Systems Inc., which relinquished control of the hospital.
“This bankruptcy filing does not mean the Jackson Brook hospital is going to close,” he said. “In fact, it’s the strongest assurance everybody can have that this facility is going to continue to operate.”
Under terms of the petition filed in U.S. Bankruptcy Court, a New York consultant with a history of engineering the recovery of financially troubled businesses will take over the management of the hospital.
Jackson Brook is important because it’s the largest private psychiatric hospital in the state and the only one in southern Maine.
Going to bankruptcy court, Concannon said, was the only sure way to protect the hospital against its many creditors, including the state which is owed more than $13 million.
Concannon expressed confidence that JBI was “a saleable commodity,” and said he already had gotten some informal inquiries from potential buyers, who he declined to name.
The commissioner said his hope would be that a buyer from Maine would take over the hospital.
Officials blame the hospital’s financial problems on the parent company and its owner, Frederick Thacher, saying he drained funds from JBI to support Community Care’s operations in Massachusetts.
The situation eventually reached the point that employees rushed to the bank on payday in an effort to cash their checks before they bounced. An infusion of state money this week enabled the hospital to meet its payroll.
Telephone calls to Thacher at Community Care headquarters in Wellesley, Mass., were not returned.