Pickens County Medical Center forced to make layoffs and furloug - WSFA.com Montgomery Alabama news.

Pickens County Medical Center forced to make layoffs and furloughs

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The "Use it or Lose it" campaign is encouraging more people in Pickens County to use the hospital for the services it offers in hopes of keeping it afloat. Source: Kelvin Reynolds/WBRC The "Use it or Lose it" campaign is encouraging more people in Pickens County to use the hospital for the services it offers in hopes of keeping it afloat. Source: Kelvin Reynolds/WBRC
Source: WBRC video Source: WBRC video
PICKENS COUNTY, AL (WBRC) -

It goes without saying how important it is to have a place to go when we get sick. For some rural hospitals, money is an issue. That is why the Pickens County Medical Center has resorted to layoffs and furloughs.

Things are so bad financially at Pickens County Medical Center that, for the first time, the hospital laid off employees, cut some services to the bone and cut out some altogether.

On Tuesday afternoon, Fox6 News found Derrick Hampton waiting outside the emergency room. His mother and aunt were brought to the ER from a car crash a few mile away.

"It could have been real bad, especially if they had to go much further away," Hampton said.

They are here for help just days after the hospital announced it laid off 14 employees and furloughed 13 managers to cut costs. Hospital Administrator Wayne McElroy calls it a decision he hated to make.

"Very tough decisions. It's a heart-wrenching decision to lay folks off," McElroy said.

McElroy expects Pickens County Medical Center to lose more than $2 million this year. Employee salaries make up more than 55 percent of the hospital's budget. Besides layoffs and furloughs, they also eliminated the intensive care unit and only use the operating room three days a week.

McElroy says more regulations helped bust their budget. Now patients have to be sicker than before to be admitted for care. In some cases, regulators can ask to be reimbursed if they feel the hospital should not have admitted someone whose care they helped pay for through Medicare or Medicaid.

"The fact of the matter [is], reimbursement continues to decline. Admissions continue to decline. So if that continues to happen, I see us continuing to struggle as all rural hospitals," McElroy said.

McElroy and others at the hospital hope a new campaign called "Use it or Lose it" encourages more people in Pickens County to use the hospital for other services it offers to keep it afloat. They are also meeting with Pickens County Commissioners and a management firm to find better ways to stay viable.

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