Mee Memorial Healthcare System to lay off 43 employees

File Photo | Mee Memorial Healthcare System operates Mee Memorial Hospital in King City as well as three clinics in King City and one in Greenfield.

Staff reductions due to changes in healthcare

SOUTH COUNTY — Mee Memorial Healthcare System will lay off dozens of employees next month in an effort to “reduce financial vulnerabilities and keep essential services in the community,” health officials announced last Friday.

The reduction in force will affect 43 out of a total 353 current employees at the nonprofit healthcare system, which operates Mee Memorial Hospital and three clinics in King City as well as one clinic in Greenfield. All affected employees were given a 30-day notice, with their final day of employment set for Aug. 18.

According to CEO Michael Hutchinson, the decision was made after months of review and implementation of other cost-saving measures, including eliminating or revising many operating contracts for services provided.

“This is a painful event, first and foremost for the affected employees, but also for all of us at Mee,” Hutchinson said in a news release July 19. “These are good people who will be missed. Unfortunately, we are forced to make this hard choice in order to adapt to changing needs in healthcare, so we can continue to adjust structure and services to meet the health care needs of the South County community.”

With its pending designation as a Critical Access Hospital, Mee Memorial is aiming to better align staffing and operations, Hutchinson said. The Critical Access designation is designed to reduce financial vulnerability of rural hospitals and improve access to healthcare by keeping essential services in rural communities, in part through cost-based reimbursements by Medicare.

In an attempt to streamline its operations, Mee Memorial has reduced the types of services provided, including discontinuing staffing for the intensive care unit and eliminating orthopedic services, in addition to the layoffs.

“Small rural hospitals like ours are facing difficult challenges, including decreases in Medicare, Medi-Cal and other payor reimbursements, unreliable government funding and legislative delays, sometimes resulting in reimbursement delays for services years after they are provided. We have no choice but to react to lower volumes and lower reimbursement rates, and to address the impacts of the transition to electronic medical records,” Hutchinson explained. “We are currently overstaffed and need to reduce our employee numbers in order to come in line with other small rural hospitals, and to ensure we are offering efficient and sustainable care to our patients and community.”

Hutchinson said Mee Memorial also faces a collection of financial challenges, including reductions in reimbursement by private and public insurers; proposed cuts to Medicare and Medi-Cal; rising costs, such as for advancing medical and operational technologies; and increasing competition and declining patient admissions.

“In light of the difficulties facing systems like ours, changes are necessary in order to ensure we are operating at our most efficient going forward,” Hutchinson said. “As hard as it is to make a change like this, it is what is in the best interest of the organization to ensure the future of Mee Memorial as a vital service to the community.”

 

ORIGINAL STORY (posted July 19):

SOUTH COUNTY — Mee Memorial Healthcare System will lay off dozens of employees next month in an effort to “reduce financial vulnerabilities and keep essential services in the community,” health officials announced Friday.

The reduction in force will affect 43 out of a total 353 current employees at the nonprofit healthcare system, which operates Mee Memorial Hospital in King City as well as three clinics in King City and one in Greenfield. All affected employees were given a 30-day notice, with their final day of employment set for Aug. 18.

According to CEO Michael Hutchinson, the decision was made after months of review and implementation of other cost-saving measures, including eliminating or revising many operating contracts for services provided.

“This is a painful event, first and foremost for the affected employees, but also for all of us at Mee,” Hutchinson said in a news release Friday afternoon. “These are good people who will be missed. Unfortunately, we are forced to make this hard choice in order to adapt to changing needs in healthcare, so we can continue to adjust structure and services to meet the health care needs of the South County community.”

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