58 People Laid Off At PRMC - 47 ABC - Delmarva's Choice

UPDATE: 58 People Laid Off At PRMC

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Christopher Hall Christopher Hall
Roger Follebout Roger Follebout

SALISBURY, Md. - Fifty-eight employees at Peninsula Regional Medical Center are being handed the dreaded pink slip this week, just two weeks after the Transitional Care Unit was shut down and more than 40 positions cut.

Hospital officials tell WMDT they have been aware of these cuts for the past two weeks now. Officials have been carefully evaluating all departments, programs and services to figure out which positions are nonessential and which positions would not impact the quality of care.

"It's a little scary. It's actually hit home for a close friend of mine. She was laid off from the hospital," Robin Truitt said.

The big question now is, are there more cuts to come?

"This is the last anticipated significant reduction in workforce here at Peninsula Regional Medical Center. So will it continue in the mass numbers that you have seen today in the 58 or larger? Probably not. I would say this is the end of that.  But going forward, will we take a serious look at all the positions that open up here at the medical center? We will. We have to," Community Relations Director Roger Follebout said.

So, what's to blame?

"We have less people coming into the hospital. The biggest revenue source is inpatient for the medical center here. So the lesser the number coming in, the smaller the support staff needed," Vice President of Strategy and Business Development at PRMC Christopher Hall said.

In fact, inpatient volumes across the country are down. The state of Maryland has recently eliminated 703 licensed beds - 406 of them were lost in the past two years alone. At PRMC, there are about 66 fewer patients in the hospital each day compared to just a year ago. The medical center is currently licensed for 288 beds and expects that number to decrease to 250 within the next two years.

"It's really hard I think for everyone, but I think it's impacting the medical community more so than we probably thought that it would," Truitt said.

Though it may be easy to point fingers at Obamacare, Hall says it's the reality of the healthcare model that's changing.  

"Going forward, it's going to be pushing to outside the hospital, more on the outpatient setting."

A majority of the positions cut were on services that support the hospital like environmental services, education, community and public relations, finance and patient billing.

An early retirement package has been voluntarily offered to about 132 employees. By law they have 45 days to accept it. If a good number of those individuals accept, that could potentially open up positions for the 58 employees that were let go this week.

Hospital officials also tell WMDT these cuts were the last resort. Budget cuts were made all across the board and we're told staff members voluntarily gave their vacation days back. So we asked about the expansion of the multi-million dollar OR. Could some of that money been used to avoid lay-offs? But officials say the expansion of the OR was unavoidable considering the current rooms were built in the 1970's and needed to be expanded to today's current codes. We're also told plans for a future medical school are not in jeopardy.

For the employees that were laid off, they were offered a severance package based on their years of service.

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