Pay cuts came too late in hospital deal

Published 12:05 am Thursday, August 7, 2014

Months ago, an Adams County supervisor asked Natchez Regional’s leadership team, “What’s plan B?”

His meaning at the time was to find out if the bankrupt hospital had any contingency plans in case a buyer wasn’t found?

To our knowledge the supervisor never got an answer. All of the hospital’s eggs were firmly in one myopic basket.

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But part of plan A, apparently, was waiting until the very last minute to begin reducing employee compensation.

As a further slap to employees, they learned — some of them through our newspaper, sadly — that the pay reduction was retroactive to the start of the pay period, meaning they worked for a week without knowing their work yielded less pay.

Sadly the payroll reduction is too little, too late. The crippling damage has long been sustained.

Practically anyone with basic common sense would have suggested reducing payroll costs more than a year ago. That would have been just before the hospital began burning through nearly $10 million in cash obtained after it sued the hospital’s former management company.

Now, as a sale to a public company is looming, the move to reduce payroll would appear to be more of a tactical move than a financial necessity, but it’s difficult to know for certain since information surrounding the hospital is on a need-to-know basis.

We expect, as the Sept. 11 hospital auction date approaches, the hospital may unveil more evidence to support the notion that the hospital must be sold.

Such a move would help discourage the likelihood that a petition would be filed to appeal the sale.

The possibility that a petition could stop the sale still exists. Of course, so does the supervisor’s original question: What’s plan B?