New NRMC CEO announces pay cuts

Published 12:01 am Friday, March 14, 2008

NATCHEZ — On Thursday, employees of Natchez Regional Medical center learned a new pay cut would soon impact their earnings.

Jim Richardson, NRMC’s interim CEO, announced the cuts saying they were in the best interest of the hospital’s future.

The announcement was made as Richardson met with groups of hospital employees in meetings that lasted nearly an entire day.

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“It was the right and prudent thing to do,” he said.

Richardson said the “administrative action” was taken with the best interest of the hospital in mind.

He also said that the hospital’s board of trustees were not involved in the decision to reduce employee pay.

And the newly reduced pay will be noticed on the first check of the upcoming pay cycle, Richardson said.

Richardson also said the pay cuts will remain in place over an indefinite time period.

But what is certain about the new cuts is how much they will save the hospital.

Richardson said the 5 percent cut is projected to save the hospital $72,000 a month. The 5 percent cut will allow the hospital to break even each month.

And given the hospital’s lack of cash, the pay cuts are badly needed Richardson said.

Richardson acknowledged that a reduction of pay would be burdensome but said the wage reduction was better than the alternatives.

Layoffs, reduction in the amount of time employees would be allowed to work and closure of departments were given by Richardson as alternatives.

Richardson also took a portion of Thursday’s meeting time to discuss the hospital’s seemingly impending road to bankruptcy.

Richardson told employees there was a high probability the legislature would approve the hospital’s bankruptcy proposition.

As Richardson was prepping employees for the future, board attorney Walter Brown was in Jackson making a bankruptcy plea for the hospital.

For the hospital to enter chapter 9 bankruptcy they must first receive permission from Legislature then Gov. Haley Barbour.

On Wednesday Brown started the first step in that process by going to the capitol to explain the county’s situation to Sens. Bob Dearing and Kelvin Butler.

Brown said both men were very supportive of NRMC’s needs.

Brown said the bill, allowing the bankruptcy, successfully left committee and is now headed for the senate floor.

While the board of trustees has not officially taken action to begin the bankruptcy, Brown said he feels the board is likely to act in favor of bankruptcy.