Wetzel County Hospital is eliminating the jobs of eight workers, reducing the hours of 15 others, and not filling vacant positions, due in part to the Affordable Care Act and the closure of the nearby Ormet plant.
Brian Felici, chief executive officer, said the reductions were necessary but difficult to implement.
"The majority of jobs that were eliminated are in support areas that are not directly related to patient care. Additionally, we were able to combine several positions that were vacated due to employee retirements and resignations," he said. "It's never an easy thing to make the decision to reduce or eliminate positions. The decisions were made with careful consideration of patient care and the overall impact on the hospital. For quite a few years we have seen a subtle shift from inpatient to outpatient care, as technology becomes more efficient. As a result of this, we are able to combine and eliminate positions that are simply no longer necessary. Many times we can downsize through attrition, but there are times when that is not possible."
He attributed the cause for the action to a reduced number of inpatient patients, new Medicare payment policies, advances in medical science, and the federal Affordable Care Act.
"All of the trends noted have contributed to a slow migration from inpatient care to outpatient care. As a result, fewer people are being admitted to the hospital for a long period of time," Felici said. "We are faced with the grueling task of balancing a budget for our facility in spite of reductions from Medicare and other insurance providers, as well as the ongoing impact of the Affordable Care Act and its effect on operating revenue. Hospitals locally and across the country are dealing with a very challenging environment. That being said, Wetzel County Hospital must adjust its operations to become more efficient while maintaining our goal of providing excellent patient care."
He also blamed the closing of Ormet on the need for reductions in staff.
"The closing of Ormet has had a profound effect on our entire community. Many of their employees are our friends and neighbors here in New Martinsville. Along with the loss of jobs, these folks have lost their insurance, which we expect will impact us negatively for some time," he said.