Memorial Hospital lays off 47, cuts hospice care

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - By Krystal Allan – bio | email

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - Memorial Hospital announced Tuesday afternoon that 47 workers had been laid off due to an $11 million budget shortfall. Hospital officials met with employees throughout the day Tuesday to explain details of the cuts.

The hospital is also cutting hospice care services. Of the 47 people laid off at Memorial Hospital, officials say 16 were with hospice care.

"Memorial hospice will close on or about October 1st.  There are 31 patients in the program," says Gary Marchand, Memorial Hospital CEO and President.

Marchand said Memorial is one of ten hospice care providers on the coast.  He said the hospital is overseeing the process of placing those patients with new providers.

"They will have another provider, but the same care will be there for them. They will not lose their Medicaid coverage. They will not lose their Medicare coverage," said Marchand.

As for those who lost jobs, hospital officials said it was across the board, from nurses to staff managers and directors.  Of the 47 laid off, 35 were full-time employees and 12 were part-time employees.

But, those employees could get back to work sooner than expected.  In anticipation of possible layoffs, the company held on to 31 vacancies, throughout the hospital, for the past few months.

Though employees might not return full-time, hospital officials say they will work to match those vacancies with recently laid off employees.

As for future cuts, the hospital's CEO said they're taking it one year at a time.

"We feel like we can live with this budget through 2011. We're fairly confident in that... 2012 we face a new set of challenges. We're telling our employees nothing is assured, nothing is guaranteed. We're going to have more issues to deal with, but we have a year to solve it before they materialize and that's what we're gonna work on," Marchand said.

Marchand said the $11 million shortfall resulted from a combination of factors.  He points to state budget shortfalls, initial Medicare reductions from health-care reform and Katrina grant money running dry.

Copyright 2010 WLOX. All rights reserved.