White River Health System to cut approximately 90 jobs

25% reduction in leadership team, extending furloughs, reducing hours part of plan, officials say

White River Health System to cut approximately 90 jobs

BATESVILLE, Ark. (KAIT) - A health system based in Batesville will be cutting nearly 90 jobs, officials said Thursday.

According to a post on the White River Health System Facebook page, White River Health System announced the steps “toward securing the future of White River Health System as a locally governed, independent healthcare provider.”

Today we announced steps toward securing the future of White River Health System as a locally governed, independent...

Posted by White River Health System on Thursday, June 25, 2020

The plan calls for a 25% reduction in the hospital group’s leadership team, including vice presidents and directors; extending furloughs, reducing hours and eliminating some positions.

“Regretfully, this process resulted in the termination of approximately 90 employees throughout our system,” officials said in the post.

In a statement to Region 8 News, officials said they are reducing expenses to face the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“While we are making changes to our operations, our commitment and ability to provide excellent patient care is unwavering,” White River Health System President and CEO Gary Paxson said. “Some consolidation to create a more efficient organization may take place; however, WRHS continues to provide the same comprehensive range of healthcare services to patients throughout north central Arkansas.”

Officials also said WRHS is working to offset revenue lost by the suspension of elective procedures, a loss in patient visits and expenses from the cost of screening and treating COVID-19.

Paxson said the decision Thursday was a tough decision to make.

“My heart goes out to the employees impacted by these changes,” Paxson said in a statement. “These decisions were made after much thought, consideration of all alternatives, and prayer in the wake of the unprecedented impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. As difficult as these decisions are to make, it is demanded of us to make these decisions to continue our mission of caring for patients and our communities. WRHS, like many other businesses and healthcare systems, are taking similar actions during these challenging times. Our focus moving forward is to re-design our Leadership Team and organizational structure to be more efficient and nimble as we deliver the best care possible for our patients and communities.”

Paxson also said hospital officials debated the issue for some time.

”These decisions were made agonizingly over the last couple of months. By far, this is the hardest thing I had to do in my career. I had to protect the organization at the expense of individuals livelihood. It breaks my heart, I hate to do it,” Paxson said.

Hospital officials also worked to avoid direct caregiver positions in the job cuts, but Paxson noted the hospital industry is facing a crisis in which money is not flowing.

However, Paxson said WRHS is running lean right now and that officials are hopeful that they will be able to climb out of the issues in front of them and grow.

Region 8 News will have more details as they become available.

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