Layoffs strike Keokuk Area Hospital

Keokuk Area Hospital announced Friday that it laid off 24 employees citing a need to address long-standing financial deficits.

Hospital president Duane Fitch said that the layoffs were not relegated to a single department and came after an analysis of where cuts could be made.

â??The hospital has been operating at a deficit for several years and we, in conjunction with the (Board of Directors), are committed to preserving the hospital for the community,â?? he said. â??Although very difficult, this was necessary to do that.â??

The hospital in January entered into a two-year deal with Fitch Healthcare, a suburban Chicago firm that served as a KAH consultant for about three years. The deal led to the resignation of former CEO Wally Winker.

Deficits plagued the hospital for years. Only recently have things started to improve. Although it's managed to cut some of its losses, the hospital still lost about $800,000 in the past fiscal year. The hospital has seen a decrease in patients which means it makes money. That dwindling income was not offset with expense cuts.

â??There's been many efforts, including working with the political community,â?? Fitch said. â??This is the latest step toward achieving equalization.â??

The hospital is also still trying to obtain critical care status so that it can receive higher Medicaid reimbursements from the federal government. The Department of Health and Human Services denied that change in status.

â??As of this point we have not been approved,â?? Fitch said.

U.S. Rep. Dave Loebsack (D-IA) said

â??This has been a ongoing issue for the hospital for a long time,â?? he said. â??I've tried to do everything I could on that friend. The request for them to get reclassified is going to be expedited. What that means and when that will happen we don't know.

â??This is an uphill struggle as the administrators at the hospital know.â??