PRCHNH forced to cut staff and hours

Published 7:00 am Friday, April 11, 2014

TOUGH TIMES: Pearl River County Hospital and Nursing Home has joined many rural hospitals in making tough financial decisions as they fight to keep their doors open, and save as many jobs as they can without impacting patient care. File Photo

TOUGH TIMES: Pearl River County Hospital and Nursing Home has joined many rural hospitals in making tough financial decisions as they fight to keep their doors open, and save as many jobs as they can without impacting patient care.
File Photo

Pearl River County Hospital and Nursing Home faces tough times. To keep the doors open, the hospital has had to eliminate 19 positions and enact hour reductions.

They join many other rural hospitals in the state, such as Southwest Mississippi Regional Medical Center of McComb and Beacham Memorial Hospital, who have reportedly laid off many employees according to articles in the Enterprise-Journal and Clarion Ledger.

A statement issued from PRCHNH Hospital Administrator Steve Vaughan, states:

“As most people may be aware, many rural hospitals and nursing homes in Mississippi and the United States have been facing difficult financial challenges due to increasing cuts in Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements by the government to hospitals and nursing homes…”

“We, at Pearl River County Hospital and Nursing Home, had been hoping that during this difficult period we would be able to retain all of our employees at the facility at their current employment status. Unfortunately, now Pearl River County Hospital and Nursing Home finds itself in a position where it is forced to take additional steps to cut expenses at our facility without cutting the quality care we have and pledge to continue to provide for our patients and residents.

“Regretfully this action is required because of decisions and actions taken by some past management personnel over the years and take backs from Medicare and Medicaid for overpayments on expenses submitted by some prior management personnel which placed the hospital in a position requiring cuts to both operational expenses and staff related expenses.

“We join other rural and regional healthcare facilities, who have been forced to make operational expenses and staff reductions to stabilize their financial future and still be able to continue to offer healthcare and employment in underserved areas.”

In an interview with the Item, Vaughan said these measures were taken due to the postponement of the $2.5 million in upper payment limit disbursement to the nursing home from June to December of this year, and being one of four hospitals that lost money to the Medicaid tax.

“We have eliminated 19 positions of various types and other employees have had small reductions in hours placed in effect for the foreseeable future,” Vaughan said.

To ensure patient quality of care is maintained, the majority of the cut positions were not involved with providing direct patient care, Vaughan said.

PRCHNH Board President Scott Alsobrooks said that like most rural hospitals, PRCHNH has made some tough decisions to avoid a financial crisis.

“The census at the hospital has been low,” Alsobrooks said. “Most of the patients at the hospital and nursing home are Medicare and Medicaid patients.”

Low census numbers in the hospital and lower reimbursement rates in both the hospital and nursing home have affected the hospital’s profit margin.

Alsobrooks, while acknowledging the gravity of the situation, feels that the hospital is on the road to recovery.

“There will be some pains as we go through the survival process,” He said.  “Some operations, such as dining, have been outsourced; other services will probably be examined financially to determine if outsourcing can save money.”

In the meantime, the board and administration will continue to analyze new services that can be provided to the community.

“There are only so many places to cut; new growth areas that can provide a solid cash flow will be sought,” Alsobrooks said.

“This is a direct result of previous administration and their consultants,” Pearl River County Board of Supervisors President J. Patrick Lee said. “We have a new board and new administration who are competent and working their butts off. They have quite a hole to dig out of.”

Lee said that basically the board and administration have two choices, one was to make cuts to operate in the black or shut the doors and everyone would lose.

“I attend every meeting that the PRCHNH board holds and the Pearl River County Board of Supervisors are working closely with them to ensure the underserved areas in our county will continue to have health services and job opportunities that are very much needed,” Lee said.