Northwest Cancer Clinic’s parent company files for chapter 11 bankruptcy

The parent company of Northwest Cancer Clinic in Kennewick filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection this week.

Patients served by the clinic at 7379 W. Deschutes Ave. won’t be affected by the court action.

The Fort Myers, Florida-based 21st Century Oncology filed for bankruptcy protection July 20. It operates 179 treatment centers, including 143 in the United States and 36 in Latin America.

The company cited lower reimbursement rates and higher denials of coverage among the events leading to the request for Chapter 11 protection.

The Kennewick clinic is the only one 21st Century Oncology operates in the Northwest. The Kennewick site’s estimated number of creditors affected is less than 50; its assets are between $1 million to $10 million; and its estimated liabilities are $1 billion to $10 billion, according to court documents.

Drs. Sheila Rege and Brian Lawenda work at Kennewick’s Northwest Cancer Clinic.

The bankruptcy filing is expected to reduce the company’s debt by more than $500 million.

Company officials said there will be no change in the way patients are treated. Treatment facilities remain open and are operating on normal schedules, and patients’ appointments, treatment schedules and physician partners remain the same, according to a news release from the company.

Meanwhile, the company’s primary lenders have agreed to provide $75 million in cash to allow business to function as usual.

“Operationally, very little, if anything, should change during the Chapter 11 process,” said interim CEO Paul Rundell in a statement. “Our ability to continue to operate as usual and have no disruption to patients was a critical factor in our decision to use Chapter 11 to implement this debt restructuring.”

The company called the bankruptcy filing a “positive development” for employees, health care partners and patients.

“We are a fundamentally strong and profitable business; however, we simply have too much debt given the size of the business and the way industry dynamics, particularly the challenging reimbursement environment, have affected our ability to maximize revenue in the aftermath of these unprecedented, ongoing changes,” Rundell said.

Northwest Cancer Clinic provides radiation therapy treatment.

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