Greenwood Leflore Hospital, Greenwood, Miss. Friday, August, 26, 2022. Credit: Eric Shelton/Mississippi Today

Greenwood Leflore Hospital will lay off as many as 80 employees in an effort to cut costs and keep the hospital open through the end of the year as it continues takeover negotiations with the University of Mississippi Medical Center.

The hospital’s interim CEO Gary Marchand announced the plans in a memo to hospital staff Friday morning. Marchand wrote that the hospital’s administrators decided to maintain current services, including emergency, surgical, inpatient, outpatient diagnostic services, and outpatient treatments including cancer and wound care. 

The staff cuts will affect as many as 55 full-time and 25 part-time employees.

“Today we are announcing a further reduction in our staffing so that all remaining services can be adequately and consistently matched to current patient volumes,” Marchand wrote. “While unfortunate, we believe this will allow the best option for current services to continue into early next year.”

However, later on Friday morning, the hospital announced that its COVID-19 vaccination and testing clinic would be permanently closing.

Marchand told Mississippi Today Friday afternoon that the layoffs alone will not be enough to stave off closure before a deal is completed.

“These actions will result in a reduction in cash outflows by the hospital and will need to be combined with financial support from the owners to attain the financial stability needed for the hospital to continue to provide services into early 2023,” he said.

The struggling 208-bed hospital employs more than 600 people. It suspended inpatient services entirely in August following a sewage leak, transferring patients to other hospitals in the area. It is currently operating a total of 18 inpatient beds. 

The hospital has been negotiating a takeover deal with UMMC since the summer. Marchand told staff last week that negotiations had hit a road block over the hospital’s outstanding debts to Medicare and deferred maintenance costs, together totaling around $9 million. UMMC did not want to assume those debts in taking over hospital operations. 

The City of Greenwood and Leflore County last week agreed to put up $4.5 million each to cover the hospital’s debts and deferred maintenance. 

Any deal would require approval by the Institutions of Higher Learning (IHL), which oversees colleges and universities in Mississippi. Because the two parties could not resolve the debt issue in time to finalize documents before the IHL’s last scheduled board meeting of the year on Nov. 17, any deal will likely have to wait until early 2023. Marchand told staff last week that staff cuts and possibly service reductions would be necessary to keep the hospital open. 

UMMC could ask IHL to hold a special called meeting to approve any documents as soon as they are ready, but UMMC spokespeople have said there are no plans to do that. They would not explain why. 

UMMC did not respond to a request for comment Friday morning. 

Greenwood Leflore employees who are being laid off are being notified Friday, Marchand said.

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Isabelle, an Atlanta native, covers health as part of Mississippi Today’s community health team. Prior to joining Mississippi Today, she was a reporter for the Biloxi Sun Herald and a Report for America corps member.