Hospital lays off 10 employees

Published 8:34 am Wednesday, January 27, 2010

FRANKLIN—Southampton Memorial Hospital laid off 10 workers on Friday in a restructuring move blamed on the current economy.

“After a lengthy analysis and a review of market conditions, Southampton Memorial Hospital is undertaking a small restructuring of its operations,” said a statement issued by hospital spokeswoman Anne Williams. “This action is based on the continuing economic downturn in the area and subsequent reduction in patient volume. Ten positions out of 376 full-time and part-time positions have been affected.”

The layoffs, which took place Friday, were effective immediately.

“The staffing changes are in select areas throughout the hospital and should not impact patient care,” the press release said. “The hospital will remain the largest employer in the City of Franklin and Southampton County.”

SMH Chief Executive Officer David Fuller said the layoffs were in response to the local economy, which will be dealt a considerable blow once International Paper Co. shutters its Franklin mill in the spring.

“The local economy has experienced significant difficulties over the past year with plant closures and layoffs,” Fuller said. “With unemployment now exceeding 9 percent, utilization of healthcare services by our residents has decreased, which has made it necessary for us to adjust our workforce to match current patient volumes. While these kinds of measures are needed, they are not easy for anyone involved. The hospital worked diligently in the time preceding the reductions to use attrition and reassignment to minimize the number of employees impacted.”

Though one of its key organizers was reportedly one of the affected employees, the Senior Circle program at the hospital will not end, Williams said.

“I am going to run both the Senior Circle program and the volunteer programs. There will not be any changes in those programs,” Williams said. “A letter to all the Senior Circle members from Mr. Fuller will be mailed out tomorrow assuring them that the program is a valuable part of our hospital services and that it will continue.”

The press release said the 10 affected employees are being provided resources to help them find new jobs and also were told about other positions at the hospital’s sister facilities in Petersburg and Emporia. They also will be considered for employment again at SMH should patient volumes increase.

“As a sole community provider, we have an obligation to help ensure the stability and financial health of our organization, and that sometimes requires us to make difficult decisions,” said Fuller. “This restructuring of our organization better prepares us to weather the challenges of what we hope will be a temporary economic downturn and will help position the hospital for continuing success going forward.”