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Drop in patient demand prompts Centra to make cuts

By Tim Saunders, tsaunders@wdbj7.com
Published On: Jul 16 2013 04:47:50 PM EDT
Updated On: Jul 16 2013 07:32:58 PM EDT

Centra's CEO says the company is seeing a significant drop in the number of people seeking treatment.

LYNCHBURG, Va. -

Centra prides itself on providing excellent care, but lately the health organization hasn't had as many patients to care for.

"Health care is certainly not immune to changes in the economy," said E.W. Tibbs, Centra's chief executive officer.

In a memo to staff, obtained by WDBJ7, Tibbs said Centra is seeing a "signifigant" decrease in the number of people seeking treatment.

"We're really experiencing the same changes that our peers across this area, the state, and the nation are experiencing," Tibbs explained in an interview with WDBJ7 Tuesday.

The cost of heath care is rising fast. At the same time, patients are getting smaller reimbursements from insurance companies.

The expensive combination is causing people to avoid seeking medical help, which means less revenue for Centra.

"We're still too expensive as an industry," said Tibbs. "We've got to drive our costs down. We've got to ensure that we're affordable."

To keep costs low, Centra is making cuts. Tibbs is directing every department director and unit manager to come up with a plan for trimming expenses by August 1.

"This is a deliberate, thoughtful process that our leadership team is involved in," said Tibbs.

The cuts won't necessarily mean layoffs, but some workers could be moved to different areas of the company where patient demand is growing.

"This is a right sizing of where we have people and ensuring that we have the right individuals at the right location," Tibbs said.

By making changes, Centra hopes to eliminate waste and drive down the overall bill for patients, giving them one less reason to avoid the doctor when they get sick.