North Mississippi Medical Center, is shown in Tupelo, Miss., on Thursday, Aug. 5, 2004. Attorney Richard Scruggs announced a settlement with the center that will provide for free medical care for poor patients with no insurance. Scruggs, who made millions leading the fight against tobacco companies in the 1990s, has filed suits against 40 health care systems and nearly 350 affiliate hospitals in 21 states. He said the settlement set a precedent and should open the door for negotiations with other hospital systems. (AP Photo/The Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal, C. Todd Sherman)

North Mississippi Health Services is laying off employees, cutting their hours and reassigning them to different jobs.

The health system announced the changes in an internal email to staff on Wednesday, sent on behalf of CEO Shane Spees. 

It is unclear how many and what kind of employees are being impacted by the layoffs and reduction in hours. Kim Marlatt, the health system’s vice president of marketing, refused to answer any questions about the decision.

“Financial losses limit the funds available to staff beds, maintain technology and grow services,” the email reads. “To fulfill our mission — our responsibility to the community to continuously improve their health — we must make our own dramatic shift at NMHS.”

The changes are part of a massive “redesign” necessitated by financial losses incurred by the pandemic and a movement in health care toward outpatient care, according to the email.

However, the same email claims that the health system has a “strong balance sheet” and has received an “A” rating for its financial management during the pandemic. 

The hospital system laid off around 100 employees, or 1.7% of its workforce, in 2013, according to a Daily Journal story.

For the next two weeks, the health system will be asking staffers to consider reassignment to different jobs, eliminating jobs and reducing hours.

“These decisions are difficult because those impacted are real people — our teammates and friends,” the email continues.

North Mississippi joins other Mississippi hospitals that have announced layoffs in recent months. 

Ochsner Health, which operates dozens of facilities in Mississippi, announced it was cutting hundreds of jobs in May. Memorial Hospital in Gulfport announced layoffs just days prior.

Other hospitals are shuttering service lines in an effort to stay open.

In June, St. Dominic Hospital in Jackson announced it was cutting 5.5% of its workforce and ending its behavioral health program.

One hospital, KPC Promise in Vicksburg, closed last month. 

A report from the Center for Healthcare Quality and Payment Reform puts a third of Mississippi’s rural hospitals at risk of closure. 

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Devna Bose, a Neshoba County native, covers community health. She is a 2019 graduate of the University of Mississippi, where she studied print journalism and was a member of the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College. Before joining Mississippi Today, Devna reported on education at Chalkbeat Newark and at the Post and Courier’s Education Lab, and on race and social justice at the Charlotte Observer. Her work has appeared in the Hechinger Report, the Star-Ledger and the Associated Press, and she has appeared on WNYC to discuss her reporting. Devna has been awarded for her coverage of K-12 education in the Carolinas.