Baptist Health CEO says no layoffs imminent

How financially sound is the Baptist Health System? Many employees who work for Baptist say they fear layoffs are on the way due to financial problems. On Monday Ashley Anderson sat down with new CEO of Baptist Health, Victor Butler to get his take on the situation. Listen to Butler's comments.

Vic Butler says Baptist Health is no different from other hospitals in Alabama at this time. No, they are not making money from operations. Yes, the Balanced Budget Act of 1997 hurt them because of medicare reimbursements. And while they are having some monetary problems, Butler says it's not as bad as some would have you believe.

"It's like you and I living out of our checkbook, says Butler, If you don't make enough money every month and bring in enough money every month to cover your debt you cover your expenses, then you take money out of your savings account. And, we are not making enough money from our operations across the system in order to live in the checking account so we are taking money from our savings account each month in order to cover those bills."

But Butler says he's hopeful that will soon change after some restructuring. In recent years, Baptist has bought several hospitals, and other facilities. Butler was asked if a duplication in services could signal layoffs. Butler replies, "There have been allegations of massive layoffs as a result of this process but I would say to you that we have no intention of having a layoff in Baptist Health as a part of the process." However, hiring freezes are a probability.

As for the money woes, Butler says he believes it's short term and they are working now to correct the problems. "We've made other tough decisions that we think are important as an organization going forward in order to weather this financial storm, says Butler. There have also been complaints about changes coming about at a time when executives drive company cars. Butler says eliminating company cars for executives not involved in extensive travel is one of the cost cutting measures they are considering. Officials expect this "re-organization" to take about two years.

In another development Tuesday, some employees of Baptist are meeting with union organizers from Birmingham. Workers are concerned about holding onto their jobs at time of financial difficulty. Tuesday nurses attended meetings with leaders of the United Steelworkers of America who say they are in town on a fact finding mission to see if there is interest in forming a union. Some of the nurses say they are concerned about long hours, short staffing, and large patient to staff ratio. Other concerns deal with insurance and benefits.