Fear. It gets a hold of us and won’t let go. We think about it, talk about it, wake up stressing about it, and it eventually robs us of our ability to enjoy life.
This past year, and especially these past few weeks, has brought a level of fear related to our economy that is permeating our community. Our jobs are important to us in a number of ways. They obviously give us the ability to earn a living and take care of our families; they give us a sense of fulfillment as we watch our efforts make a difference in the lives of others and in our organization; they give us a sense of family and community as we share many hours together and labor together on common goals and with a common mission.
I value my job and I know you value yours. When we watch job losses occur and get recorded in the media, the natural question is “how is this going to affect me?” I think that, and I’m sure you do as well. I want to be very honest with you about how I see the future of Campbell County Health. First of all, my future vision is imperfect. Since we live in an energy economy, our local economics are largely driven by national and international events, and those are difficult, if not impossible, to predict. It is very easy when things are good to predict they will remain good. It is equally easy when things are headed in a not so desirable direction to assume things will continue to deteriorate. I don’t know how long the current downturn will last, but I do know we have to be realistic in how we respond to it.
My direction to our leadership team has been to plan on a 10% reduction in operating expenses. I believe through personnel attrition, renegotiation of contracts, reduction of supplies expense, and other operating expense line items we can successfully reach our goal of a 10% reduction. What we are trying to avoid in the short or long term is a reduction in force, also referred to as a layoff. That is not in our plans at present. I can’t make promises about the future, but I can assure you we are doing all we can to avoid that happening.
We have chosen not to refill positions where it is possible and where the work can be either redesigned or redistributed. We may shift personnel from one department where the work load is lower to a department where the demand is higher. Our goal is to keep our present work force in place with the exception of attrition. Every time someone leaves our organization a personnel requisition is generated to start the process of replacing that person. We are looking very closely and carefully at each of those as they come through. To be honest, 80-90% of the positions are approved. We have not implemented a hiring freeze, but our goal is to not replace approximately 10% of those open positions.
We have also had a healthcare efficiency consulting group come in to analyze our current situation to determine where opportunities exist, which will help us as we see turnover in our organization. Our Board has been equally engaged as we have cancelled approximately $12.0 million dollars of capital projects—we had planned an $8.0 million parking structure, and a $4.5 million Walk-In Clinic South, that have now been taken off the table. While we will continue to upgrade equipment and our physical plant, we will carefully evaluate all future capital expenditures to ensure they are needed and necessary.
Our goal is to have a thriving, efficient, highly effective organization that continues to serve our community by providing a lifetime of care with dedication, skill, and compassion. I appreciate every member of our workforce, our medical staff, and our Board of Trustees. Together we will not only manage our organization through the short-term struggle of financial challenges, but we will successfully lead our organization in such a way that we continue to succeed in the long-term as the healthcare provider of choice for our community and our region.