UMMC to lay off 115 employees

By The Associated Press

JACKSON — The University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson will lay off 115 employees and leave 90 unfilled positions vacant.

Officials said the layoffs began Wednesday.

Dr. James E. Keeton, vice chancellor for health affairs, said in a statement that the UMMC work force will be about 2 percent smaller than it was at the end of 2011.

Keeton said affected employees include administrators, technicians, nurses and support staff.

“This is a very tough decision but it is imperative that we align our costs with our revenues,” Keeton said. “I am truly sorry for the people who are affected but we have no other option.”

Keeton said a number of factors prompted the decision, including the poor economy and the increase in uninsured and underinsured patients. He said weak economic conditions have dampened demand for clinical services and increased the ranks of the state’s unemployed, who often lose their health insurance along with their jobs.

“This is a very tough decision but it is imperative that we align our costs with our revenues,” Keeton said. “I am truly sorry for the people who are affected but we have no other option.”

In addition to the poor economy, UMMC has been contending with the considerable costs of implementing an electronic health record in order to comply with federal regulations.

“Health care is facing many unknowns at the local, state and federal levels and we have to take precautions to respond to that uncertainty,” Keeton said. “Over the long term, the need for health care and the health professionals we’re training to provide it will only grow.”