COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - In a media release sent Tuesday, Columbus Regional Health officials detailed major changes coming to the healthcare facilitator, due to "declining reimbursement and growing bad debt expense" to reduce costs, mostly in the form of job cuts.
The release reads in part:
The cost reductions resulted from a three-month "grassroots" strategic performance improvement process led by the middle management team with extensive input from staff and support from the board of directors, physician leadership and senior leadership.
The goal was to identify and implement more than $23 million in cost reductions across the health system with no adverse impact on patient care, clinical quality or patient safety.
The main areas of focus were supplies, purchased services and labor costs. The Columbus Regional Health team identified $14.9 million in supply and purchased service savings and $12.6 million in labor cost reductions.
The labor cost reductions will be realized in the elimination of 219 positions across the organization. Of those, 99 are currently filled by employees.
Positions range across the entire organization from senior management to director-level to front-line staff. No bedside nursing positions were affected. The positions eliminated represent 3 percent of the workforce.
"Eliminating positions and affecting people's livelihoods is the hardest decision any leader will have to make," said M. Scott Hill, FACHE, president and CEO of Columbus Regional Health. "These decisions have not been taken lightly. Unfortunately, it is a necessity as we address the continuing financial challenges of today's health care environment."
Columbus Regional Health is making every effort to assist employees directly affected by the reductions, including providing severance packages and assisting with outplacement services.
Columbus Regional Health has posted an operating loss for the past two years. Hill cited a challenging industry-wide operating environment paired with declining reimbursement from commercial insurers and government programs such as Medicare and Medicaid.
Additionally, increases in bad debt expense and charity care have far exceeded levels of previous years.
Columbus Regional Health expects in excess of $10 million less in reimbursement this year for providing the same patient services as last year.
"Simply put, we are working harder than ever as an organization and we are seeing less revenue than in years past," Hill said. "To overcome these challenges and ensure we can fund our future strategic plans, we have worked closely as a team to examine all viable and sustainable opportunities to adjust the cost structure of our organization."