The Dosher Memorial Hospital Board of Trustees voted unanimously to offer employees early retirement to try and alleviate the hospital's financial struggles.
During the open session portion of Wednesday's meeting, Chief Financial Officer Dan Porter told board members that in order for Dosher to continue to operate and cope with inflation and higher industry costs, changes must be made.
Porter said Dosher has a higher number of full-time employees per bed than the North Carolina median for critical access hospitals.
In a presentation, Porter said, on average, it takes 82 days before Dosher receives patient payments as compared to 52 days for the average North Carolina hospital.
The board considered two options: early retirement or layoffs. In order for staff members to receive early retirement, they would have to be 60 years old with at least five years of service.
If the board opted for layoffs, employees would have received one week of severance care for ever year of service up to 12 weeks. Employees would have also received three months of health care.
The board entered the closed-door portion of its meeting and ultimately voted in favor of offering early retirement.
"North Carolina law allows for closed session if you're dealing with specific personnel issues, individuals, and the impact of certain actions on those individuals," Community Relations Director Kirk Singer told the media.
Singer wasn't allowed inside the closed session, but tried to answer questions when board members refused to comment.
"Since it was closed session and I was not present in that closed session, I'm not aware of everything that was discussed," Singer said.
Singer said the hospital will release details about what happened behind those closed doors Thursday afternoon after they've contacted affected employees.
"At this point in time, the hospital wants to make sure that it relays the board's decision to the employees and talk with them about what the board has decided. That would be the next step before we do anything else. We want to make sure we communicate with our employees," Singer said.
In July, officials announced due to an overall downturn in the economy, diminishing reimbursements, and rising costs that they would have to consider layoffs and offering early retirements to eligible employees.
The board of trustees was set to meet on August 4, but that meeting was postponed because two board members couldn't attend. The board chair wanted to make sure the full board can have a say before any decisions are made.
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