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KDMC stems layoff losses

Efforts to trim costs by layoffs and reductions in hours workedat King’s Daughters Medical Center have ended, with only about halfof the layoffs originally predicted having taken place, hospitalofficials said.

KDMC Chief Executive Officer Alvin Hoover said approximately 21employees were laid off between early December and mid-January, farless than the more than 40 positions administrators thought theywould have to terminate when the layoffs began. Additionally, 11employees who retired or transferred were not replaced.

Further layoffs were avoided by eliminating hours worked in somedepartments to achieve a full time equivalent without actuallyhaving to terminate more employees, Hoover said.

Hoover said some departments are now working 32-hour weeks. Thecutbacks and limited layoffs together have resulted in a reductionequal to 50 FTE – about 11 percent of the hospital’s workforce,Hoover said.

“There have been a lot of departments that have collaboratedtogether to reduce their hours and subsequently reduced theirexpenses,” said KDMC Chief Development Officer Johnny Rainer. “Thatprecluded having to lay more people off. They shared the pain, soto speak, and we’ve seen that in a number of departments.”

Aside from reduced hours, Rainer said several employees havebegun double dipping to keep hospital standards up and hoursdown.

“We’ve added some new responsibilities to different managers andcoordinators, and everyone has kind of stepped up to the plate,” hesaid.

The hospital began conducting layoffs in early December afterits financial bottom line ran negative for several months,resulting in the need to trim almost $1 million from its annualexpenditures. It was the first round of job cuts for KDMC – one ofthe largest employers in Lincoln County – in three years.

Officials said the hospital began losing money in the latterpart of 2008 because patient volumes dropped far below predictedlevels.

Since the layoffs began, however, patient volumes have startedto increase slightly, Rainer said.

“We saw some improvement in December, and thus far January hasheld up pretty well,” he said. “We turned things around some inDecember, and I think we’re pointed in the right direction.”

Rainer cautioned that recent improvements are not the cure-allfor the hospital’s financial woes, saying continued improvementswould be necessary before KDMC began turning in positive bottomlines every month – the overall goal of reducing expenditures.

He said the hospital would continue to operate with its adjustedstaff and hours until patient volumes increased to formerlevels.

“Strategically, we’re gonna have to do a little more with alittle less,” Rainer said. “If we increase the volumes, I’m surewe’d have to bring some staff back. There are some nationalstandards and guidelines we use to make staffing decisions.”

All in all, Rainer said hospital officials are happy thereductions are over and eager to concentrate on improving thehospital.

“I think there was a little bit of a sigh of relief (when thelayoffs ended),” Rainer said. “It was like, ‘OK, let’s work withthe workforce we have now and see if we can continue to providegood, quality health care.'”