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.
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."
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.