Panama City, Fla.-based Bay Medical Sacred Heart revealed on Dec. 4 it expects to lay off 635 staff members early next year once it reopens, according to a news release obtained by the Panama City News Herald.
Bay Medical sustained heavy wind and water damage when Hurricane Michael hit the U.S. coastline in October, and has ceased all operations apart from its emergency room since the storm. Officials said they plan to reopen the hospital in stages starting soon after Jan. 1. However, the hospital will reopen at one-fourth of its previous 323-bed size.
The first phase of the reopening will include 75 inpatient beds with eight operating rooms and five catheterization labs, according to the report.
Hospital officials said in the Dec. 4 news release they plan to keep about half of the 1,450-person staff after Feb. 4, 2019, after the hospital reopens. A hospital board of trustee member told the Panama City News Herald “all levels of service will be affected, from department heads to the maintenance guys.” About one-third of the affected individuals are part-time, as needed or temporary employees, a hospital spokesperson told Becker’s.
Bay Medical has continued to pay employees and provide benefits since the hurricane and will continue to pay employees and fund benefits through Feb. 4 and Feb. 28, respectively.
“We are heartbroken to share this news at such a difficult time,” Bay Medical CEO Scott Campbell said in the Dec. 4 news release. “The decision to reduce our workforce has been incredibly difficult, but necessary to ensure our ability to continue providing care to the community and preserve critical services.”
The hospital is also in the midst of a transfer of control. Bay Medical’s owner, Nashville, Tenn.-based Ardent Health Services, recently signed a letter of intent to transfer its controlling interest in the hospital to St. Louis-based Ascension.
To aid in the workforce transition, Ascension said it plans to hold a job fair tentatively scheduled for Dec. 10-11. In a Dec. 4 statement to the Panama City News Herald, Ascension and Ardent said they are committed to hiring as many eligible employees as possible for openings in their systems.
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