TOCCOA — Stephens County Hospital will eliminate 34 jobs and 27 vacant positions.
Wednesday morning, the Stephens County Hospital Authority Board announced the elimination of 61 positions.
The move comes with an additional hiring freeze.
Chief Executive Officer/Hospital Administrator Lynne Anderson says the cutbacks were a difficult decision.
“We have made the difficult decision to a staffing right-sizing,” she said Wednesday morning. “I call it that because we have evaluated our staffing levels and compared them to other rural hospitals and feel like we have not adjusted our staffing levels to the decreasing volumes we’ve had over the last three or four years. So, today we are announcing we’re eliminating 61 positions.”
Anderson said of those 61 positions, 34 are actual employees who will lose their jobs and 27 are vacant positions that have not been filled since May.
“So we think this is the right decision, even though we are concerned about the employees that are affected by this and our other employees as they go through this with their friends and co-workers,” she said.
In press release issued Wednesday morning, Anderson said hospital leadership and the hospital authority are working in tandem to aggressively pursue financial turnaround initiatives, which include improving clinical documentation and payment collections, service quality and improving patient care.
According to Anderson, none of the positions cut included physicians.
“Out of the 61 positions, there were 42 clinical positions and 19 non-clinical – administrative and support staff. The clinical were nurses, some patient care techs, some pharmacy techs, those kinds of positions. No physicians,” Anderson explained.
Anderson emphasized the cutbacks, while drastic, will have no effect on the quality of patient care.
“We don’t think it will negatively impact the quality of care at Stephens County Hospital at all,” Anderson said. “We think this adjustment in our staffing is taking us to the correct staffing levels to match our volumes, which have decreased over the past four or five years. So we don’t expect any negative impact at all on our quality.”
Stephens County Hospital recently celebrated its 80th anniversary — 50 years of which have been in the current location, constructed on property donated by Toccoa Falls College. The 96-bed hospital employs more than 500 people.