WHEELING, W.Va. — Ohio Valley Medical Center and East Ohio Regional Hospital announced Friday that approximately 70 employees from OVMC and EORH will be laid off.
The layoff, also referred to as a Reduction in Force, is a commonly used process that allows for the termination of an employee from employment due to a variety of factors. The two hospitals have a combined workforce of just over 1,200 employees.
The RIF announcement is a direct result of a national trend that many rural hospitals are facing; declining inpatient care due to a lower daily census, Medicare payment reductions, and the cost of maintaining aging facilities. Healthcare facilities from across the nation are feeling a similar financial crunch, as administrative leaders have announced closures or layoffs.
For example, in February, Lake City (S.C.) Community Hospital and Williamsburg Regional Hospital in Kingstree, S.C., announced it will close and a new 25-bed critical access hospital will be built somewhere between the two communities.
Also last month, Garfield County Hospital in Pomeroy, Washington, announced not only reductions in services, but also a wage freeze, layoffs, and other cuts wherein each department will reduce their staff. Closer to home, UPMC Pinnacle recently announced the closure of its hospital in Lancaster, Pa., and Wheeling Hospital announced the closure of Belmont Community Hospital in Bellaire after serving that community for 105 years. That closure is slated for the first week of April. A recent analysis from management consultancy firm Navigant of more than 2,000 of the nation's rural hospitals indicates that 430 rural hospitals in 43 states are at high risk of closing. Additionally, the federal government recently intervened in a lawsuit involving certain anti-competitive efforts by another health care provider in our community which confirms what our hospital officials have understood for years – OVMC & EORH have operated at an unfair disadvantage in the marketplace.
“We have been working very hard to achieve reductions in operating costs while improving efficiencies”, said Daniel C. Dunmyer, President and CEO of OVMC-EORH. “Unfortunately, these measures have not yet resulted in sufficient cost savings to our hospitals.”
“Our administrative team reviewed the staffing levels in each department to ensure the operational needs of the two facilities continue to be met, as well as to address areas where changes can be made. As a result of the ongoing need for cost reduction, we have determined that it is prudent to implement a restructuring of our current workforce.”
Alecto purchased OVMC and EORH in June 2017. At the time, both hospitals were experiencing severe financial distress. At the time of the transaction, Alecto committed to keep both hospitals open despite the significant financial and operational issues associated with the prior management of the facilities. Since the purchase, Alecto has funded more than $25 million into OVMC & EORH.
“Both Ohio Valley Medical Center and East Ohio Regional Hospital will continue to provide our communities with the highest quality care that our patients have come to expect, and we will continue to look to the community to also support their hospitals that have been a part of Wheeling, WV and Martins Ferry, OH for more than a century,” explained Dunmyer. “We value and respect our employees and this decision was not made lightly, but it’s one that is unfortunately necessary at this particular time.”
All employees affected by the RIF are eligible to be rehired by the hospital if they qualify for a position. Unemployment Compensation, potential severance pay, and continued health benefits are being offered to those employees receiving RIF notifications. Employee meetings are being held Friday to address any concerns of employees who are affected.