POINT PLEASANT — This has been a sober week of tough decisions and emotional goodbyes for those at Pleasant Valley Hospital (PVH).
Layoffs, which were recently announced, began on Tuesday and ended on Thursday of this week. In all, 69 PVH employees are now gone.
According to PVH CEO Tom Schauer, the hospital allowed employees to voluntarily participate in the reduction with 32 choosing to do so, which equated to 46 percent of the total staff reduction. Schauer also said severance packages were offered to all affected employees, and those packages were determined by the affected employee’s length of service.
Hospital departments and employees across the board at PVH have appeared to have been affected by layoffs and in addition, some individuals had a reduction of hours worked which results in a reduction of pay. Though the majority of layoffs and reduced working hours happened on the main campus, other off campus sites were affected with PVH having offices in Meigs County, Ohio and Jackson County, W.Va.
Since the layoffs from one of Mason County’s biggest employers was announced, many in the community have wondered if there was any specific reason to blame for the financial setback. It appears, as with most things in life, there is no one answer.
When asked to define the biggest financial stress on the hospital at this time, Schauer said, “The implementation of the Affordable Care Act, changes in federal and state regulations, less than anticipated utilization, and less reimbursement include the issues that surround financial stress. These aren’t issues that are just affecting PVH; these issues are affecting hospitals across the country.”
As for why the layoffs are a financial necessity at this time, Schauer went on to say, “We recently completed a thorough strategic planning process in order to react to the changing healthcare environment that is impacting hospitals across the country. The implementation of the Affordable Care Act, changes in federal and state regulations forced a significant change in the hospital utilization resulted in less reimbursements. Therefore, we were forced to make tough decisions. The decision to implement a reduction in force was not taken lightly, but we did what we believe is in the best interest of the community that we serve. We want to be able to provide the best possible health services to our patients.”
Schauer was asked if the hospital would be taking any other cost-cutting measures, including, for example, the purchase of equipment or supplies being downsized?
Schauer answered, “Through our strategic plan process we are looking at all areas where we can be more efficient. In terms of technology and equipment, our equipment is state of the art. We have the technology and equipment necessary to meet the needs of the community we serve. We will continue to equip and maintain state of the art technology.”
The hospital’s annual operating budget is $79 million, Schauer said, explaining, prior to the reduction in force, PVH was “substantially” above the industry average for patient to caregiver ratio. Despite these layoffs, Schauer maintains the hospital will still be able to offer the same level of care to its patients and the community.
“Our goal with our strategic planning process is to create an overall plan for the hospital, develop a community needs assessment and identify performance improvements to make the hospital more proficient,” he said. “While we hate to have to go through this process, we have every intention of being a better hospital. We owe that to the members of the community we serve.”