published Monday, April 4th, 2011

Hutcheson cuts 75 from payroll

Officials at Hutcheson Medical Center in Fort Oglethorpe today announced about 75 employees will be laid off as the hospital tries to improve its productivity.

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    Staff Photo by Angela Lewis/Chattanooga Times Free Press Officials with Hutcheson Hospital in Fort Oglethorpe say that after nearly a year, they have hired an interventional cardiologist to run the hospital's cardiac catheterization lab.

A statement said the hospital is continuing to take strategic moves to ensure the future stability of the institution.

Experiencing challenging economic times over the last several years, Hutcheson officials announce today a reduction in staff. This comes as the hospital continues to take strategic measures to ensure the hospital’s future stability. Approximately 75 staff will be impacted. The elimination will improve productivity to better meet current volumes and increase financial stability to the facility.

“We have worked diligently over the last several months to streamline daily operating expenses while our staff has continued to maintain excellent quality and patient care,” said Interim President and CEO Debbie Reeves. “Yet as a result of our current financial state, we had to implement this difficult task of aligning our staffing levels to meet our patient volumes. Our employees have experienced emotional and uncertain times over the last several months, and we have tried many avenues to prevent the implementation of these cuts. We are not alone in these challenges as other hospitals are looking for better measures to be operationally sound while searching for partnership models to be successful.”

Statement to HMC Board of Directors
Statement to HMC Board of Directors

The statement also said the board thinks bringing a larger health care provider into a partnership agreement was the best course for Hutcheson’s future and that last October the board selected Erlanger as a partner. A final agreement is still being formulated.

“We have made great strides over the past several months and these types of changes are difficult as we are faced with losing valuable employees,” Martha Attaway, Hutcheson Medical Center Inc. board chairwoman, said. “Our mission is to meet the health care needs of our community, and to do that during these times, we must become financially sound.”

Those affected by the layoffs have been offered a two-week severance package that officials said includes accrued paid time off.

A partnership between Hutcheson Medical Center in Fort Oglethorpe and Erlanger Health System in Chattanooga is one step closer to being sealed after three of the hospital’s four oversight boards voted unanimously on Sunday to accept a finalized contract.

Hutcheson and Erlanger have been negotiating for months on a plan that would pump money into the struggling hospital and help it rebuild its physician and patient base. Hutcheson has been losing $1 million a month, and it has defaulted on a $35 million bond.

Though three separate boards voted for the contract Sunday, it can’t go through unless trustees of the Hospital Authority of Walker, Dade, and Catoosa Counties agree.

Authority trustees were scheduled to meet Sunday at the same time and place as the other three boards — Hutcheson Medical Center Inc., Hutcheson Health Enterprises Inc. and Hutcheson Medical Division Inc.

See tomorrow’s Chattanooga Times Free Press for complete coverage.

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cathiekelley said...

I think Martha Attaway should be the first to go. Since she is the Hutcheson Medical Center Inc. board chairwoman, she should be held accountable for the situation the hospital is in.

April 4, 2011 at 12:36 p.m.
littleoleme said...

Anybody in a position to approve former CEO Stewart's $69,000 bonus for last year should accompany Martha Attaway out the door as well. You all have done a huge disservice to the community you were suppose to serve.

April 4, 2011 at 3:44 p.m.
snead_tm said...

Erlanger blows it's money. Or should I say the taxpayers money since our taxes fund it. They are poorly managed. Erlanger will only help Hutcheson if Erlanger can make a profit. Both CEO's and their croones should be shown the door.

April 4, 2011 at 3:52 p.m.
Humphrey said...

Stewart getting a bonus and then 75 (another 25 coming on Friday) getting layed off is absurd. It was only two years ago the paper was telling us to go to a two-year school and get that recession-proof nursing degree -

Here is the link to the story

April 4, 2011 at 6:32 p.m.
Marathon5454 said...

Why would Erlanger possibly risk public funds to merely postpone the bankruptcy of Hutcheson? What is there for Erlanger to gain that would be worth risking $30 million? Patients? Hutcheson has already lost their patients. The last 20 years of mismanagement and self dealing made sure of that. There is nothing for Erlanger to gain to compensate for risking public funds. Hutcheson has very few patients and has total debt that is at least triple it's auction value. Let Hutcheson bankrupt and let the bankruptcy trustee do a comprehensive investigation into this sorry mess

April 5, 2011 at 11:53 a.m.
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