Pemiscot Memorial Health Systems (PMHS) employees began receiving notices of “furlough” today, August 16, 2013, after a heated Board meeting held last night. The hospital, located in Hayti, MO, employees around 300 people, and is reportedly laying off around one-third of that staff.
The PMHS Board held a meeting last night and according to television station KFVS 12 in Cape Girardeau, MO, the Board referred to an accumulating debt of about four million dollars that they could not pay. Those who attended the meeting were told that lay-offs were inevitable. The Board did not rule out the possibility of the hospital closing because of the debt.
One of the employees that received notice that she would be furloughed was “almost relieved.” Jessica Duckworth, a phlebotomist in the lab who has been employed at the facility for 16 years said, “It is almost like a load has been lifted off my back. We have been working so hard for so long to try to help the patients to the best of our ability and never knowing if we would have the supplies we need. So many people have been working so hard on patient care and we constantly had the burden on us if we would be able to run tests, or have what we need to run the tests.”
One example Duckworth gave was the hospital running out of soap for the patients. She said they (the hospital) utilized urine specimen cups filled with liquid soap to hand out. Duckworth is unsure about the beginning date of her furlough as she has been notified she is being laid off but also told to report in to work on Monday.
Pemiscot County Commissioner Ben Baker says that he hopes the hospital can pull through. He says the need for the jobs and service is great in the county and that up to 100 employees entering the unemployment rolls will definitely have a negative effect on the county. Pemiscot County is one of the highest poverty counties in the state and is the located in the 12th most impoverished congressional districts in the nation.
Hayti Mayor Bobby Watkins says that any lay-offs from the facility will resonate through the city negatively. “The loss of jobs for these employees not only affects their incomes, but the businesses through-out our city. It will affect people who own rental property and run businesses here,” he said, “It is just not good.” Mayor Watkins says he hopes that the hospital can be saved, not just for Hayti, but for the entire region.
PMHS serves an impoverished area, and as a county hospital, treats many uninsured and under insured. The Hospital is a political sub-division of the county and has a Board of five elected officials that serve five year terms. The Board is currently comprised of:
Bobby Khourie term expires 2014
Johnny Harmon term expires 2015
Glenn Haynes term expires 2016
Linda Burnett term expires 2017
Lee Wigginton term expires 2018
No comment or press statement has been released from PMHS and the total number of those laid off has not been publicly announced yet.