Tift Regional Hospital eliminating 40 positions

Tift Regional Medical Center in Tifton, Ga. / Jessica Fairley


After receiving information that 40 Tift Regional Medical Center employees were being let go, FOX 31 spoke with Tift hospital officials about the issue.

Hospital officials are taking the drastic measure to cut $14 million dollars from their annual expenses.

Representative for the medical center say because of the new healthcare reform, if changes don't come now, cuts may be worse in the future.

"About 60 percent of our revenue comes from Medicare and Medicaid patients and we're anticipating some substantial cuts by the government to those programs. So we're just trying to batten down the hatches," said TRMC Outreach and Development Director Chris Efaw.

The majority of the 40 people let go were notified Monday about the reduction. The company has issued a severance package to those employees

Although many are losing their jobs, some may have the option to regain employment through the company.

"There were just a few nurses involved in this and those nurses will have the opportunity to look at positions that we have open here and to move into one of those bedside nursing positions," said Patient Care Services Vice President Diane Patrick.

The job cuts are the beginnings of more changes to come. Officials add that there may be a shift in administrative responsibilities and policy changes in the future.

Original press release issued by Tift Regional Medical Center:

Tift Regional Medical Center (TRMC) announced it will carve out $14 million in annual expenses through a cost-reduction initiative designed to meet challenges in future healthcare delivery. TRMC will streamline its operating budget by five percent to include a workforce reduction of 40 positions. TRMC launched this initiative from a position of strength, said TRMC president/CEO William T. Richardson, and it is considered an investment into the future of the hospital and the community it serves.

"Our goal is to eliminate redundancies and reallocate resources to focus on areas that offer the highest growth opportunities for TRMC," said Richardson. "Employees impacted by the staff reduction will be offered a severance package, and we will try our best to help them find another job within the organization."

Richardson said TRMC is very sound financially, but must prepare for pending changes in federal healthcare reform. Like most industries throughout the country, hospitals are also facing an uncertain national economy. The U.S. government pays out much more than it takes in, which is not sustainable over time. The single largest expenditure made by the U.S. government is payments for Medicare and Medicaid. "More than 60 percent of our revenues at TRMC come from services provided to Medicare and Medicaid patients, and we are certain that the federal government will be making substantial cuts to these reimbursements," he said. "We have to be prepared for this new business model."

On Nov. 1, TRMC engaged in a strategic performance and cost reduction initiative which examined opportunities for reducing expenses and maximizing efficiency within the organization. TRMC gathered input from medical staff physicians and organized special task forces with a cross-section of hospital managers for a three-month evaluation process. TRMC examined supply costs, purchased services, process improvement and labor costs.

"By carefully listening to the ideas of our employees, managers and physicians, we evaluated every aspect of our organization to ensure we are delivering the best possible value," said Richardson. "It is imperative to examine costs and improve efficiencies now in order for TRMC to remain fiscally solid in later years. Many hospitals are not as financially secure as TRMC. It is best to address these issues now and not allow a state of financial deterioration to occur before acting. In such a scenario, the impact would be more significant."

Richardson added that other successful hospitals from around the state have proactively engaged in strategic performance and cost improvement initiatives. Recent examples include Piedmont Hospital in Atlanta and Hamilton Medical Center in Dalton. "The results have been empowering for each organization," he said. "In this era of healthcare reform, hospitals like TRMC must operate leaner and demonstrate cost-value to patients as well as the federal government and other third-party payers. We must increase the efficiency with which we deliver care; we must improve patient safety and patient outcomes; and, we must do everything we can to reduce and restrain the cost of operations."

TRMC is Tift County's single largest employer with 1,700 employees. According to the Georgia Department of Community Health-Division of Health Planning, TRMC has an economic impact of $423 million on the local economy. Services provided by TRMC include surgical specialties, oncology, cardiovascular care, women's health, neurodiagnostics, medical imaging and more. In fiscal year 2011, TRMC provided $83.2 million in charitable/indigent care and uncollectible amounts.

"We are doing this initiative to help define and secure the future of Tift Regional Medical Center so we can continue to be an economic engine for the community and provide the quality services that our region has come to expect from us," said Richardson.

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