Columbus Regional Health makes cost cuts, eliminates 219 jobs

Columbus Regional Health makes cost cuts, eliminates 219 jobs

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - Columbus Regional Health announced they are eliminating more than 200 positions Tuesday, including nearly 100 layoffs, as the organization implements new cost reduction measures.

Hospital officials say eliminating 219 positions across the organization will achieve more than $23 million in cost reductions across the health system.

Out of the 219 positions lost, 99 of those spots are currently filled by employees.

Scott Hill, the CEO of Columbus Regional Health, explained the other 120 eliminated positions were not filled, so the organization decided to get rid of those positions during their strategic performance improvement plan that started in July.

"The strategic performance improvement plan, also known as the SPI process was meant to be a 'grassroots' process," Hill said. "The process allows us to look at the entire cross structure of the organization and it engages the physicians, the middle managers and other employees to bring ideas to the table about ways we can save money. We looked at the number of areas within the organization, we looked at purchased services, and we looked at supplies as well as the labor expense. So many ideas were brought forward through all those individuals and were put into consideration for implementation which will begin next week."

Hospital officials say the organization discovered $14.9 million dollars in supply and purchased savings and $12.6 million in labor cost reductions.

"We are a very large organization and we contract for lot of services and we also purchase a lot of services," Hill said. "So our managers and employees looked at ways we could impact some of those line items with new organization and put new items forward for reductions. We have lot of vendor partners within the organizations, and we make sure we are getting the best price possible for the goods that we are purchasing."

Hill said the positions eliminated span from senior management to middle management and staff level positions.

However, Hill said Columbus Regional Health will continue to provide the same quality service to their patients. He says no bedside nursing positions or direct care positions were eliminated or affected during the process.

Hospital officials explain the positions eliminated only represent three percent of the workforce, but Hill says eliminating positions was difficult to do.

"It's incredibly difficult to make these types of decisions but they were also necessary," Hill said. "Our people are the most important asset and we have a great deal of amazing individuals in this organization. I believe all employees, leaders, physicians and board members all help make Columbus Regional Health what it is. But at the same time, I'm supportive of the leadership within this organization, and supportive of moving forward with their implementation."

Affected employees were notified Tuesday by their bosses and supervisors within their organizations. Hospital officials say employees and their supervisors shared conversations with care and dignity regarding this issue. Tuesday was also affected employees' last day of work at Columbus Regional Health.

"We didn't do a system wide announcement via email or anything," Hill said. "We made sure their supervisors spoke with the employees, and it's never easy to talk about positions being eliminated. The reality is the healthcare environment today is very dynamic and reimbursements are changing everyday within our industry. So we have been forced to look at the way we have our cost structure in line right now and to make sure our revenues and our cost structures are lined up. Quite frankly, our cost did not outpace our revenues for the last two years."

Hospital officials explained declining reimbursement from commercial insurers and government programs such as Medicare and Medicaid played a role in creating a challenging environment for the health industry.

According to the Columbus Regional Health press release, the organization expects in excess of $10 million less in reimbursement in 2014 for providing the same patient services as last year.

"While these decisions and conversations are difficult to discuss, we recognize this will put us in the path to future sustainability," Hill said. "This organization has been around for a long time. We're talking about 178 years, and we want to be here for 178 years more and provide only the best service to our patients every single day."

Copyright 2014 WTVM. All rights reserved.