Fewer patients mean cuts, layoffs for Virginia provider

Reduced readmissions is one of the reasons a major healthcare provider in Lynchburg, Va., announced plans to lay off 112 employees this month at its three hospitals and close one of its surgical units, according to the Lynchburg News & Advance.

Centra Health System CEO E.W. Tibbs told the News & Advance a drop in patient volume forced the layoffs at Lynchburg General, Virginia Baptist and Southside Community hospitals as well as the closure of a 33-bed surgical unit at Virginia Baptist Hospital. Patient volume dropped 2 percent to 3 percent between 2011 and 2012, and decreased a further 4 percent to 5 percent between 2012 and 2013.

In a letter to all Centra employees, the News & Advance reports Tibbs spoke of the "changing" landscape of the healthcare industry. "This can be attributed to many factors such as, the overall state of the economy, decreased lengths of stay, less-invasive procedures, reduced readmissions, efficiencies in care processes and increased focus on health, wellness and prevention," he wrote.

Centra plans to eliminate 112 positions in September, including 10 managers, 36 registered nurses, five licensed practical nurses and a unit manager. It will eliminate 12 more positions by December. Another 141 employees will see their hours reduced, with 39 of those employees seeing cuts of 20 percent or more, according to the article. A hiring freeze will be in place for the next two weeks.

The drastic cuts, which Tibbs described as "right-sizing," will save Centra $10 million annually, primarily from salaries, which represent about 2 percent of the provider's total payroll, the News & Advance reports.

Centra's struggles are not occurring in a vacuum. Last year, hospitals in Maryland, Nashville, New Jersey and Chicago also faced layoffs and budget cuts. Their rationale for the cuts, however, differed. Western Maryland Health Systems spokeswoman Kathy Rogers attributed the cuts to increased costs associated with healthcare reform, while New Jersey's were attributed to uncertainty as to whether or not Medicaid would be expanded. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has since announced he will support the expansion.

To learn more:
- here's the News & Advance article

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