Moss Regional braces for cuts; patient wait times to be affected

By By Natalie Stewart / American Press

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.”