GREENSBURG — Decatur County Memorial Hospital (DCMH) has announced it will lay off 30 members of its workforce; affected employees will be notified by the end of October.
In a recent open letter to DCMH employees obtained by the Daily News, President and CEO Linda Simmons announces the layoffs, writing, “Our team members – our colleagues and friends – are the most important asset to our organization’s mission, and I assure you that the decision to reduce our workforce was reached only after much discussion and thoughtful analysis. While regrettable, these reductions are necessary if we are to offer affordable and preeminent care to the patients and families we have the honor to serve.”
In a phone interview with the Daily News Tuesday afternoon, Simmons expressed hope that the final number of layoffs would come to under 30, a possibility she also discusses in the letter. To that end, the facility has created a voluntary retirement program for hospital directors who are at least 60 years old. The hospital will also leave certain open positions unfilled as an additional cost-cutting measure.
“We wanted our staff to know first,” Simmons said in explaining the letter. “We have also informed the County Commissioners.”
A number of factors have forced the need for job cuts, Simmons added. Pressure to reduce costs in the healthcare industry are always high, she noted, but the current pressures leading to the upcoming layoffs began with government sequestration in January, which took effect when the US Congress couldn’t agree on a Federal budget.
Sequestration cuts led to a two-percent decrease in Federal reimbursement dollars through the Medicare program. That rate, Simmons said, currently stands at between 90 and 94 cents on the dollar, depending on the procedure and other factors. “We’re thankful if we can get that [amount],” Simmons said.
In essence, then, DCMH (and every other hospital across the country) loses money on every Medicare patient served. The reimbursement rate for Medicaid patients – the state-funded equivalent to Medicare – is far, far worse – 12 to 17 cents on the dollar, according to Simmons.