Joplin, Mo., hospital cutting 160 jobs

Friday, November 14, 2008

JOPLIN, Mo. -- St. John's Regional Medical Center is eliminating 160 jobs as part of a plan to cut $30 million in expenses and preserve the hospital's core services.

St. John's also is closing its primary-care clinics in Girard, Kan., and Grove, Okla., and changes are pending at its Neosho, Mo., clinic.

"This is about finding a successful strategy for the future, not the past," said George Caralis, interim president and chief executive officer. "We are refocusing on our core areas that are integral to being a hospital."

While 160 positions are being cut, Wednesday's announcement affects fewer than that because the number includes nearly 20 middle management jobs that were eliminated last week.

The hospital's work force will be about 2,200, about the same as it employed in 2000.

Caralis said competition with another local hospital, Freeman Health System, for medical insurance contracts is a main reason for the cuts. But he said St. John's also is struggling with an increased number of uninsured patients and Medicaid reimbursements that haven't changed in eight years.

Both St. John's and Freeman offer insurance contracts to employers for blocks of patients. Recently, Freeman won a contract with the city of Joplin to cover its 450 employees. Mayor Gary Shaw said Freeman submitted the lowest bid with the best benefits.

Caralis called the level of competition between the hospitals "incredible and unusual" for a community and said it "goes on here every day."

He unveiled St. John's new "Mission Forward" plan that narrows the hospital's focus to its core services. The center will focus on services connected to cardiology, orthopedics, oncology, women's services and neurosciences.

He said no core services would be eliminated under the plan.

Caralis said an independent consulting group reviewed hospital operations for six to seven weeks and recommended efficiency measures that would save St. John's $30 million. He said not enough money was being earned by the medical center to reinvest in operations.

Information from: The Joplin Globe,

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: