Via Christi cuts 28 jobs in Pittsburg - KOAM TV 7

Via Christi cuts 28 jobs in Pittsburg

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Updated June 3, 2013:  As expected, Via Christi Health in Pittsburg has announced some layoffs.

Public Relations Director Michael Hayslip has confirmed 28 people were affected.

Hayslip says the Health System anticipated up to 50 people could have been affected in Pittsburg, but that number was reduced through cost reduction measures that included operational costs and contractual services to lesson the number of people affected.

Hayslip says most of the employees affected did receive a severance package.

Posted May 21, 2013:  Some workers at Via Christi Hospital in Pittsburg will soon be laid off.  Via Christi Health is the third largest employer in Pittsburg with a total of 804 employees - 603 of them are full time.

Hospital officials say the upcoming layoffs are because of fewer inpatient and outpatient revenue.

Officials with Via Christi Health System say statewide in Kansas its total revenues are $18 million below what was budgeted this fiscal year.  In Pittsburg, revenues are $3.5 million below what was budgeted.

Hospital officials say one reason for fewer patients may be new insurance plans with higher deductibles.

Via Christi in Pittsburg says it'll first be looking at ways to cut costs without layoffs, although the layoffs are a certainty.

"For example, one of those contracted services, we're looking at diagnostic imaging and reading x-rays - we actually contract with the University of Kansas to do that on certain days of the week," says Michael Hayslip, Director of Community Relations for Via Christi in Pittsburg.  "We also have another company that we use, Kansas Imaging Consultants.  So we're evaluating whether KIC should take those days that KU has as well."

Among the other Via Christi Healthcare Systems facing layoffs are in Manhattan, McPherson, and three hospitals in Wichita.

Pittsburg hospital officials hope to have a more detailed course of action to reduce costs by June 7.


Original news release issued by Via Christi Health:

Via Christi Health, like other health care organizations nationwide, is experiencing financial challenges as a result of declining hospital and physician visit volumes. 

"These declines have been taking place over several years but they have accelerated at Via Christi since the snow storms in February and have not bounced back," said Jeff Korsmo, president and CEO for Via Christi Health. 

Despite performance improvement initiatives designed to reduce costs, with less than two months left in its fiscal year, Via Christi is approximately $18 million below budget. While not operating at a loss, its 2013 operating margin as of April 30 was 0.1 percent, which Korsmo noted is a fraction of the 3 percent to 4 percent operating margin needed to sustain its mission in the long term. 

"After three consecutive months of volume shortfalls, we believe we must assume that our volumes will not bounce back in the short term," he said. "Consequently, we must act now if we are to achieve the modest 1.5 percent operating margin budgeted for 2014." 

Among the planned actions is to reduce the size of its staff so that it aligns with what appears to be the "new normal" for hospital and physician visit volumes. The reduction will take place throughout Via Christi by the end of June and, while plans are still being finalized, initial estimates are that the reduction will be in the range of 350-400 positions, or about 4 percent of Via Christi's statewide workforce. Additionally, senior leaders will be taking a salary reduction of about 4 percent. 

To minimize the number of involuntary staff reductions, Via Christi is eliminating some recently vacated positions and will be selectively offering voluntary reductions. Staff members whose positions are eliminated will receive severance and other support in accordance with Via Christi's Workforce in Transition policies. 

"Although difficult, these changes are necessary and likely will be the first of a number of changes that we will have to make in order to be more cost-effective so that we can ensure the future sustainability of our mission," Korsmo said. 

While working to reduce costs, he said, Via Christi also will need to continue to invest in its future. 

"I am truly sorry for our employees affected by these reductions," Randy Cason, Senior Administrator of Via Christi Hospital in Pittsburg, said. "As Mr. Korsmo stated, hospitals throughout the nation must become more cost effective in light of declining reimbursements. We have made a commitment to southeast Kansas to invest in our facilities and technology to meet the current health care needs of our community, and provide excellent care for our patients for decades to come. This includes recruiting additional physicians and targeting specialties where we have identified specific community needs." 

"With 10,000 baby boomers a day becoming eligible for Medicare, there will continue to be a growing demand for our services, but increasingly in non-inpatient settings - at home, in clinics and through electronic media," Korsmo said. 

"Being part of Ascension Health will give us greater strength to address these changes over the long term while we work within our ministry to provide the safest, highest-quality care and excellent service to our patients and senior care residents," he said. 

"While we have some significant challenges right now, we remain optimistic about our future. Our founding congregations of sisters faced many challenges and adapted to meet the new needs of those they served. We will do the same." 



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