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January 27, 2014

Hospice layoffs affect Corbin

One person laid off locally, 46 region-wide

CORBIN — By Jeff Noble / Staff Writer

The Corbin office of Hospice of the Bluegrass was one of eight offices in the Lexington-based organization that laid off staff this week.

A total of 46 people were let go, including one person at the Corbin office, located at 1020 Cumberland Falls Highway.

According to a news release, 617 people work at the eight offices in Corbin, Lexington, Harlan, Hazard, Pikeville, Frankfort, Cynthiana and Florence. The 46 people laid off made for a staff reduction of seven percent.

Deede Byrne, the chief operating officer of Hospice of the Bluegrass, blamed the reductions in staff to increasing changes in the health care system.

“The reductions were announced Wednesday and it went into effect today. It is what’s going on nationally in health care. There is increased regulatory requirements, increased regulatory scrutiny, as well as additional administrative burden. What’s happening nationally is going on locally as well,” Byrne said.

Byrne added all Hospice offices, including the one in Corbin, will still be operating with full services, and care would not be disrupted.

Along with increased regulatory requirements, the news release noted Hospice programs nationwide faced significant cuts in reimbursements. It said payments to Hospice have been reduced more than 11 percent since 2009. Also, the new regulatory requirements and increased data collection requirements have brought on additional financial burdens.

Hospice of the Bluegrass mentioned that while more physicians are recommending hospice to patients than in previous years, the average time a patient uses hospice is much shorter than the six-month benefit permits. As a result, their organization must adjust to patient numbers and needs.

Hospice President/CEO Gretchen Brown said employees affected by the layoffs have been offered a severance package.

“This decision was made with great sadness and regret. We care about the employees who are losing their positions and will do what we can to make a difficult situation more bearable,” Brown noted in the news release.

Hospice of the Bluegrass serves 32 counties in southeastern, central and northern Kentucky, including Whitley, Knox and Laurel counties.

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