RMC illustration (copy)

An exterior view of the Regional Medical Center of Orangeburg and Calhoun Counties.

T&D FILE

The Regional Medical Center is laying off less than 3 percent of its employees in an effort to make the hospital more efficient, President and CEO Charles Williams said Wednesday.

The layoffs, which began Monday, are impacting employees throughout the hospital, he said.

“As part of a strategic plan that focuses on core business, we are implementing cost-reduction strategies that include reducing overtime, eliminating agency staff, flexing staff, filling only emergent vacant positions, staff reductions and all aspects of health care system operations," Williams said.

"The changes will impact many areas of the hospital; however there will be minimal impact to direct patient care providers,” he said.

Williams said he cannot be more specific about the number of jobs cut or the affected departments at this time.

The cuts follow a January audit report which showed the hospital ended the 2016-2017 fiscal year with a $7.1 million loss.

Williams said initial estimates show the cuts could save more than $1 million through the 2018 fiscal year.

The hospital currently employs 1,404 and has a payroll of more than $100 million.

“The goal of these changes is to match staffing with current needs of the health care system so that RMC is more efficient," Williams said. "RMC will continue to provide excellent patient care for the citizens of Orangeburg, Calhoun and Bamberg counties and surrounding areas."

Williams acknowledged the decisions were “very difficult.”

“We are in very challenging times," he said.

He did not rule out future cuts.

“We are currently evaluating our financial status, which will determine the need for future layoffs,” he said.

When asked if any of the hospital's current projects, particularly the Bamberg-Barnwell Emergency Medical Center, will be impacted by the cuts, Williams said the project is “under construction and there are no plans to halt at this time.”

Through the first three months of this fiscal year, the hospital saw a loss of $2.8 million, which is about $1.8 million worse than its position during the same time last year.

The hospital continued to struggle with a high number -- 81 -- of contract employees, which cost the hospital more than regular staff.

When taking into account the hospital's primary care practices, RMC’s entire system saw a $3.1 million loss through December. That’s $1.1 million worse than last year at this time.

This is the second round of job cuts at the hospital in the past two years.

In April 2016, the hospital cut about 33 positions. In addition, 27 employees had their hours reduced and about 30 vacant positions were left unfilled.

Those cuts were a part of RMC’s staffing efficiency plan, which was projected to save the hospital about $4.9 million a year.

Contact the writer: gzaleski@timesanddemocrat.com or 803-533-5551. Check out Zaleski on Twitter at @ZaleskiTD.

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Business Reporter

Gene Zaleski is a reporter/staff writer with The Times and Democrat.

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