Centra Lays Off More Than 150 Workers

Lynchburg, VA - More than 150 people employed by Centra no longer have jobs.

The company announced Wednesday that effective September 1, they are making changes to more than 300 positions within the company. Centra sent out an email out to staff Wednesday afternoon.

According to Centra Health, they are letting 163 people go, and reducing hours to 141 employees.

Centra Spokesperson Diane Riley says there is a decline in patient volume.

According to Riley, the entire organization was assessed, and cuts were made across the board.

Two departments are also set to close by the end of the year. The Ford 5 surgical Unit at Virginia Baptist Hospital, which just laid off 15 employees, and the hospital's Out Patient Department is set to close by December 31.

Riley says there will be job opportunities in the future but could not elaborate any more than that.

Earlier Wednesday, ABC 13 met up with a former Centra employee. For his protection, we are not disclosing his name or former position.

The former employee says his close friend was just notified on Tuesday, without any prior warning, that her nursing position had been eliminated.

"She was grief stricken. She was sad. She was, 'what am I going to do, where am I going to make money? It's not like there's a bunch of hospitals in Lynchburg to work?," the source said.

Below is the text of the entire email sent to all Centra employees Wednesday:

"Dear Colleagues,

Over the past few weeks, our executive team has been working diligently to assess the entire organization's expenses and making decisions to plan for Centra's future. You've heard me mention that the healthcare industry is changing. This can be attributed to many factors such as, the overall state of the economy, decreased lengths of stay, less-invasive procedures, reduced readmissions, efficiencies in care processes and increased focus on health, wellness and prevention.

While we are seeing this market trend nationwide, we are feeling this shift right here at Centra. Volume is down about 4-5% this year versus last year, and in order to meet our performance objectives, we must adapt to this decline. Although the total statewide and national volume for hospital services has declined, Centra has actually gained market share (our percentage of all volume in our service area). In other words, we have a larger portion of a smaller pie. We can credit our expansion in areas like Farmville, Bedford, Smith Mountain Lake and Danville for preventing even steeper declines in volume.

I have always promised transparency, and as we move forward with some major decisions, I again promise that same transparency. We all have chosen to work in healthcare because we care about people, so when we have to make decisions that we know will affect someone's livelihood and income, we take that very seriously. We've done everything in our power not to eliminate positions, and it is with great sadness that I say approximately 160 positions within Centra will unfortunately be eliminated. Parts of these reductions include the closing of Ford V and the OPD unit at Virginia Baptist Hospital. The OPD unit will remain open at reduced hours thru December 31st. With these closures, we will care for these patients on the Lynchburg General Hospital campus. Our employees are valued colleagues and I deeply regret that these reductions are necessary. The decision to reduce staff is difficult for all involved but required as we streamline operations and finances to prepare for our new industry realities.

As you can imagine, this has been an incredibly difficult process for our leadership team, and we've taken great care in assessing our organization and its finances. Centra is a strong organization, and in order to maintain that, we have to be flexible and make adjustments when needed. We take our responsibilities as stewards of this community very seriously, and we must make some changes that will ensure we are a sustainable healthcare resource to this region.

We are a nimble system with a history of innovation and success. With today's growing concern about healthcare costs, reimbursements, healthcare reform and the Accountable Care Act, change is required. While this is a challenging time, I am confident in our abilities to be flexible without wavering in our ability to provide Excellent CareEvery Time to our community. We must preserve the good things that we have--our culture, our passion for what we do, our expertise and our compassion for our patients and their families.

Healthcare might be in transition, but there is one very important guiding principle we must focus on, and that is we will never compromise the quality of care we provide or the safety of our patients, their families and our employees. I recognize these changes are difficult for our organization and staff members who have shared their expertise with and support for Centra, so I ask that you please be sensitive and support our employees as they make these transitions.

E. W. Tibbs, RN, BSN, MBA

Centra Health

President & Chief Executive Officer"