(Rick Hickman / Special to the American Press)
Last Modified: Thursday, October 04, 2012 10:29 PM
Although W.O. Moss Regional Medical Center will have fewer layoffs than originally expected, patient wait times will still be affected, the hospital’s interim administrator said.
Eleven Moss Regional employees will be laid off effective 8 a.m. Oct. 15 as a result of a $210 million budget cut in the LSU Health Care System, a reduction handed down by Gov. Bobby Jindal’s administration.
Jimmy Pottorff said the final layoff plans came back from the state Civil Service Department on Friday, and employees were notified of the final decisions.
“We are going to have counselors here all next week and the Louisiana Workforce Commission to help these employees affected find other jobs,” he said. “Other local health care agencies and providers have been really good with helping place some of these employees, so they’re somewhat easing the blow.”
Originally 15 layoffs were expected, but Pottorff said due to people retiring and transferring to other agencies or hospitals the number decreased.
“It’s good that the number is down from 15, but I still wish it weren’t 11. That’s still a lot of people affected,” he said. “It’s sad because a lot of these people have worked here for years, and it’s like we’re losing a family member.”
Earlier this year the hospital implemented six layoffs and had to eliminate its psychiatric and pediatric units to absorb a $2.3 million cut to its budget for the fiscal year ending June 30.
Frank Opelka, LSU’s executive vice president for health care and medical education redesign, is meeting today to possibly present revised hospital cuts to the LSU Board of Supervisors after reviewing cuts made by Fred Cerise, the system’s former leader. Cerise was removed from his post in August after criticizing Jindal’s administration.
The House Health and Welfare Committee will meet at 1:30 p.m. today to discuss the recent cuts.
Pottorff said he’s “worried” about more cuts stemming from the meetings.
“With the board meeting, I’m concerned that we may be looking at more cuts because there is still a budget gap,” he said.
A letter sent to Moss Regional employees in August said the LSU Health Care Services Division was “originally notified of the need to decrease state match in the (Disproportionate Share Hospital) program by $79.3 million in state general funds from the amount appropriated to (the Department of Health and Hospitals) by the legislature as match for LSU.”
The letter also said that a $43 million gap in state and federal funding remained for the Health Care Services Division.
“There’s still a chance that there could be more cuts to come,” Pottorff said. “We appropriated more money in our budget because we were going to do some expansion of services so we could kind of absorb some of the cuts we had. But with more cuts we would probably see more service reductions. We don’t have any cushion left.”
Moss Regional sees about 120,000 people a year — in its radiology department, labs, primary care facilities, emergency room and clinics — and those people, Pottorff said, will feel the cuts as well.
“With less staff there’s going to be an impact on wait times,” he said. “We will still provide the services, but it’s going to make for longer waits. We’re doing more with less people, and our waiting rooms are packed and they’re packed all the time.”
Pottorff said that despite cuts, employees at the hospital are “resilient.”
“It really is just a great bunch of people to work with,” he said. “They’re all rolling with the punches, and their primary focus has stayed the same and that’s to take care of the patients.”
Posted By: Ricky T. Guidry On: 10/5/2012
Title: SYSTEM ORGANIZATION
Being a healthcare provider, I hear daily about the wait that patient who seek healthcare at Moss Regional have to go through. This is mind boggling and unacceptable! So one in the administration needs to study best practises in this area. I suspect that this area can be improved. It just takes some attention by the administration and maybe a little more hustle by physicians employed by the state. Remember that these patient's time is just as valuble an precious as the doctors!!!!!