BAY ST. LOUIS, MS (WLOX) - There's more bad economic news for Hancock County. Hancock Medical Center is laying off some employees. This comes just days after we learned that the Waveland Kmart is closing.
In all, eight people at the Medical Center have lost their jobs and others have had their hours cut. The hospital's situation is causing concern in the community. As word spread of the layoffs, many residents began to think the worst.
"If people are being laid off, what are we going to do if more people get laid off? With things around town shutting down, what if the hospital shuts down?" asked Waveland resident Haley Ladner.
Hospital leaders declined to go on camera, but said there is no danger of the hospital closing. And that they were forced to make staffing changes to help balance their budget.
"I'm concerned because the less staff that they have, the less that they can do," said Ladner.
Sheila Weisner worked as an RN at Hancock Medical Center in the early 1990s.
"There is just so much you can do," Weisner said. "When I was a nurse, it was hard to do everything for every patient. We tried, but with lower staff, it's going to be even harder."
A hospital spokesman told WLOX News the hospital, which has served the people of Hancock County since 1960, will continue to provide the quality care to its patients as it has in the past, and the changes would have no impact on that.
In the hospital's written statement, it stated one of the hospital's problems is patients' ability to pay for medical services rendered. And that in the last 12 months alone, the hospital has had to absorb $11 million worth of non-payments.
"If you can imagine $11 million in uncompensated care. I don't know how the hospital has been able to manage that? We, as citizens, need to look at every time we make a decision to go to a hospital outside of our area, that affects their ability to meet their bottom line," said Tish Williams, Executive Director of the Hancock County Chamber of Commerce.
Williams said residents always need to support Hancock County businesses. She said that's the only way county businesses, like the medical center, will survive.