St. Francis cuts jobs after 'budget inaccuracy'

St. Francis cuts jobs after 'budget inaccuracy'

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - St. Francis hospital officials have confirmed that 65 jobs were eliminated on Thursday, following what officials call a "budget inaccuracy" of $30 million was discovered.

Employees were notified in an e-mail Nov. 20 that the hospital has been operating for at least three years with reports that "overestimated" the hospitals revenues and "underestimated" its expenses.

St. Francis former Chief Financial Officer Matt Moore was fired last week. Word of the layoffs comes just three years after a major expansion at St. Francis.

A representative from St. Francis sent the following press release Thursday night:

Recently the St. Francis Board of Trustees and CEO learned that financial information provided to them has been misstated. Revenues were overstated and expenses were understated in both the current and prior years' financial information.  As a result, the hospital will restate its financial statements.

The preliminary financial review indicates that approximately $29.7 million of net assets were overstated in hospital financial statements over the past three years. The correction of this overstatement results in a current year-to-date operating deficit of approximately $12.8 million, which is likely to increase over the remainder of the year. A committee of the Board of Trustees is working with hospital executives to determine the scope of the financial challenges.

"The Board of Trustees has engaged respected physicians, business and civic community leaders, including James D. Yancey, Phil Tomlinson, Dr. Luther Wolff Jr. and Dr. Rajinder Chhokar, to work with the board committee to formulate a plan to ensure a financially sustainable future for the hospital," says Richard Bradley, chairman, St. Francis Board of Trustees. 

St. Francis will also implement additional controls, including hiring internal auditors, to strengthen its financial processes and to support the integrity of the financial information to the Board and the community.

St. Francis's underlying fundamentals are good: its admissions, surgeries and patient satisfaction have never been higher. However, the hospital is going to have to make operational adjustments to correct its financial course. Included in this will be a reduction of the workforce, impacting 65 associates, primarily in non-patient care areas, and not filling 15 additional positions.

"Today is a very difficult day for St. Francis and our associates. I personally regret that this is happening. We have great compassion for all those impacted," says St. Francis President and CEO, Robert Granger. "St. Francis has served this community well for more than 60 years and we will persevere through this crisis and continue to provide outstanding care as we always have." 

The Board of Trustees is working with hospital leadership to formulate a plan to ensure continuity of operations and a financially sustainable future for St. Francis. The Board of Trustees and CEO are committed to being transparent and will provide updates to the community as it becomes available. 

The St. Francis Board of Trustees issued a statement Friday morning, saying in part that they "deeply regret" the layoffs. 

"As soon as we learned about the misstatements three weeks ago, we immediately authorized an independent investigation, and began pursing solutions to ensure a financially sustainable future for St. Francis," the statement said. "We are confident that St. Francis will continue to deliver the outstanding care our community expects. We expect that St. Francis can serve Columbus for many decades to come." 

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