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Phoebe Worth Medical Center undergoes restructuring

Four full-time positions impacted by restructure at Sylvester hospital

SYLVESTER — A restructuring has taken place at Phoebe Worth Medical Center in Sylvester, impacting four full-time jobs at the hospital, officials with Phoebe Putney Health System said.

The restructuring took place on Monday. Of the positions impacted, two were administrative. Officials say those impacted will maintain their benefits for a 30 days and be placed on a preferred list for opportunities for employment throughout the system, including positions that are currently vacant.

“The decision to reduce our workforce was not made lightly. Hospitals nationwide – including critical access hospitals – are struggling with loss of volume, reimbursement reductions, new regulations and reform uncertainties,” said Kim Gilman, CEO of Phoebe Worth. “Hospitals have a mandate to reduce cost and improve quality for the communities we serve. Our goal has been to approach labor cost controls through attrition, or by not filling vacant positions as appropriate. But the economic outlook we face today demands a deeper restructuring.”

Over the past year, there have been a few rounds of job cuts within the Phoebe Putney Health System. In July, management-level job eliminations resulted in the loss of “fewer than 10” positions at Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital. In October, there were a total of 160 positions cut — including 33 management level positions throughout the system. Each time, officials said impacted employees were given opportunities to fill other positions throughout the system that became vacant.

Also last year, uniform bonuses and merit increases were cut after Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital failed to meet its financial goals.

In April 2013, it was announced that, due to reductions in Medicaid reimbursement for medical services provided as a result of sequestration, Phoebe Putney Health System would lose $2 million annually over the next several 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 involving the re-evaluation of management and a streamlining of the organization.

In the fiscal year that ended in 2013, costs to the Phoebe Employee Health Plan were $15 million more than budgeted, charity and indigent care increased and bad debt write-offs were $20 million more than budgeted. These were among the factors, officials at Phoebe said last year, that created a “perfect storm” in the health care fiscal environment — thereby prompting cuts within the system.