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Funding cuts result in Phoebe job loss

Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital

Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital

ALBANY, Ga. -- Earlier this year, it was announced that recent sequestration cuts would have a sizable impact on Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital over the next several years.

Recently, that was seen in the form of management-level job eliminations at the hospital, officials at Phoebe said Wednesday. A Phoebe executive said "fewer than 10" positions were involved.

Phoebe Putney Health System announced in April that, due to state reductions in Medicaid reimbursement for medical services provided, Phoebe would lose approximately $2 million annually over the next nine years.

An additional loss of millions of dollars caused by the federal implementation of the Affordable Care Act resulted in the health system starting a process several months ago involving the re-evaluation of management positions and a streamlining of the organization.

As a result of this, the decision was made to eliminate some management level positions, officials say.

"We continuously look for ways to be more efficient in our organization while still providing the highest level of quality medical care in the most cost effective manner possible," said Phoebe CEO Joel Wernick in a statement.

"If you look around the country and right here in Georgia, you see hospitals and physicians being impacted in a dramatic fashion financially by changes in the way the federal and state governments reimburse hospitals for the care they provide. This has caused hospitals to close their doors and some physicians to stop practicing. To protect this organization and our community, tough decisions are necessary.

"It's our goal to continuously look at our organization and maintain our place as a top performing health care organization with the best people and latest technology available."

The staff changes at Phoebe have already taken place. Rick Smith, corporate director of public relations and marketing, said there were fewer than 10 positions impacted. The individuals working in those positions were given the opportunity to move into other vacant positions, which many of them did, Smith said.

Approximately 20,500 health care and related jobs may be lost in Georgia by 2021 as a result of cuts triggered by the Budget Control Act of 2011. During the first year of the sequester, more than 496,000 jobs will be lost nationally, including more than 13,000 in Georgia, a report produced by Tripp Umbach, a firm specializing in conducting economic impact studies, said.

"With these kinds of statistics out there it is not surprising there is concern in the health care sector," said Wernick. "The problems are not just limited to health care, however."

The report found that the job losses will impact many economic sectors beyond health care, with the Bureau of Labor Statistics data showing that health care created 169,800 jobs in the first half of 2012 and accounted for one out of every five new jobs created last year.