BREAKING: Layoffs at Wyoming Medical Center

Submitted: 6/7/16

Statement from Wyoming Medical Center on employee layoffs:

"For 105 years, Wyoming Medical Center has served the people of Natrona County. Our mission is to advance the health and wellness of our community, and we do that every day by providing life-saving care to all patients who come through our doors, regardless of their ability to pay.

That is why today’s announcement is so painful. This morning, we reduced 58 employees from our workforce. Another 57 positions will be left vacant. Affected workers have been notified, and were offered a compensation package, including up to 60 days of pay. We are also offering access to counseling and will connect them to career transition and community services. They will be encouraged to apply for open positions at WMC.

As always, patient care and safety remain our top priorities. We are committed to keeping people at the bedsides, and today’s action will not affect patient care as we deliberately did not reduce any bedside nurses. No services are being cut, and we are taking this action so that we can remain healthy and strong for years to come.

While we understand the impact this action has on the individuals and their families, we must protect our long-term viability in a dramatically changing economy and healthcare market. We have a moral, ethical and legal obligation per our lease with the county, “to develop, maintain, operate a hospital and related healthcare facilities and services in Natrona County, WY, to provide diagnosis and treatment for all persons.” That means caring for our community and our state while being good stewards of the resources entrusted to us.

This action will save the organization $7.2 million in wages, salaries and benefits. It is necessary in an increasingly challenging economy and healthcare market:

  • The rapid downturn in the local economy is putting pressure on many industries.

  • Over the last several months, our payer mix has changed dramatically. The percentage of commercially insured patients is shrinking while the percentage of self-pay patients and those on Medicare and Medicaid is rising.

  • Reimbursements for care from government payers such as Medicare and Medicaid continue to decrease. 

  • We are now competing with two for-profit hospitals in an economy with a decreasing number of insured patients. We anticipate the cost of charity care and bad debt – care that we deliver but for which we are not paid – to be $4 million higher than last fiscal year.

As an organization, we worked hard to avoid this action. We have been working since late last year to cut costs by $10.7 million, including mandatory furloughs for leadership; travel and hiring freezes for non-essential positions; a 10 percent house-wide budget cut; and renegotiated or eliminated contract, supply and professional fees.

In January 2015, we realigned management to streamline operations, cutting five leadership positions. We have not filled three more key leadership positions this year, putting us in line with national benchmarks for leadership positions. Raises and bonuses have been frozen for leadership positions for the upcoming year. Even with all these measures, we are now forced with the challenge of reducing more costs. Salaries, wages and benefits make up about 48 percent of our total expenses.

We will continue to look for ways to provide vital health services in the most cost-effective and efficient means possible. Today is difficult for everyone at Wyoming Medical Center. Not only are we losing good, hardworking people, we are losing friends and co-workers. All are skilled professionals.

Wyoming Medical Center is consistently honored for being among the safest hospitals in the state. Our quality measures are as high as or better than many hospitals in large cities. We’ve built stroke and heart programs that are among the best in the country, meaning people receive life-saving care right here in central Wyoming, close to where they live and work, without being transferred to larger hospitals out of state.

We save lives, pure and simple. This will not change!

Our mission remains the same: We will always be Casper’s community hospital, and we will continue to serve everyone who walks through our doors – no matter their age, condition or ability to pay. A strong, vibrant community depends on a strong, vibrant community hospital. We take our responsibility seriously, and we will protect the health of Casper, Natrona County and Wyoming for another 105 years."