Phoebe consolidating services as a result of sequestration cuts

As a result of a two percent Medicare cut, Phoebe Putney Health System will lose approximately $2 million annually in reimbursement funds. / File

Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital officials have announced during their monthly board meeting that the hospital will be effected by sequestration.

The Balance Control Act of 2011 mandated a two percent sequester of Medicare spending over the next nine years. This 2013 to 2021 cutback is in place in order to reduce the national deficit.

The cuts went in effect on April 1, 2013.

"One of the largest entitlement programs is Medicare so that often times are always in the cross hair of any change in federal budgeting," said Joel Wernick, Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital President and CEO.

To make up for the loss, he says the hospital is tightening its belt. To offset the financial blow, Phoebe's Main Campus and Phoebe's North Campus were consolidated. In addition, the hospital system is using one human resource department for all locations.

"We have always used attrition as a way to carefully understand how we staff our facilities. As positions become vacant we carefully evaluate that position to see if it needs to be replaced," said Joel Wernick.

The hospital is also looking for ways to buy cheaper and operate less expensively. This is something southwest Georgia leaders have to face on every level.

"Everybody is trying to minimize the impact of sequestration. The marine base, rather than lay people off, has tried to furlough employees. So we're all trying to absorb what we can rather than lay people off and make a bad situation worse," said Roger Marietta, Albany Commissioner.

Despite cuts, Phoebe doesn't anticipate any jobs will be lost or that any patients will be affected.

The president of the hospital say the goal is to continue to provide the level of care and service that they have in the past, just on a tighter budget.