West Virginia hospital to cut workforce amid $18M loss, pending Justice Dept. settlement

Wheeling (W.Va.) Hospital said it plans to reduce its workforce to help offset losses attributed to the COVID-19 pandemic and the pending settlement of a U.S Justice Department lawsuit.

The hospital said it will start by offering voluntary buyouts to staff, but if it fails to achieve appropriate staff reductions, an involuntary reduction plan will be implemented. 

Employees have until Aug. 4 to decide if they want to opt into the voluntary program. A severance package will be offered to employees who take the deal. 

Wheeling Hospital CEO Douglass Harrison said the hospital is facing an $18 million loss this fiscal year due to the pandemic. Mr. Harrison said that the pandemic had a $35 million impact on the hospital, but it received about $22 million in provider relief funding to help offset part of the losses. 

The hospital already has implemented several cost-reduction strategies, including voluntary pay cuts for administrators and physicians, suspension of retirement match contributions and reduction of capital spending. 

Also contributing to the hospital's financial trouble is a case alleging the hospital and former CEO Ronald Violi violated the anti-kickback law, which the hospital is working to settle with the U.S. Justice Department.

"Because of COVID-19 and the impending DOJ settlement, we have been forced to make the painful decision to eliminate staffing resources," Mr. Harrison said. "We are hopeful that by acting now, we are assuring that the hospital continues to maintain its viability and clinical excellence to meet the ongoing needs of the community in the future."

Mr. Harrison said the hospital will not survive without making the workforce decisions now, and it will continue to search for a long-term strategic partner. 


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