WHITEVILLE, NC (WECT) – Columbus Regional Healthcare System (CRHS) in Whiteville is expected to reduce staff positions in the next two months in an effort to cut costs, CEO Henry Hawthorne told employees last week.
Hawthorne said the hospital's number of admitted patients and reimbursements have declined 15 percent over the past four months. If that were to continue, Columbus Regional would lose more than $8 million this year, he explained.
"Unless we change what we do and how we do it, maintaining viable health care services locally will not be possible," Hawthorne said.
The hospital's CEO explained community hospitals across the state and country have experienced fewer inpatient stays and lower federal and state reimbursements due in part to federal budget sequestration and the Affordable Care Act. He said dynamics in Columbus County, such as high unemployment, add to the pressures.
"Amplifying the situation, hospitals throughout North Carolina are also suffering as a result of the state legislature's decisions in 2013 to reduce Medicaid reimbursements and not to expand Medicaid to cover uninsured populations," Hawthorne said, explaining rural, "safety-net" hospitals like CRHS are among the hardest hit.
"Ongoing cost reductions will require some organizational restructuring to design inpatient units that more efficiently, effectively and safely match the lower inpatient census," Hawthorne said. "Direct patient care will not be compromised by these necessary changes."
The latest round of cuts comes on the heels of the hospital's decision to eliminate 28 positions in September.
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