published Thursday, January 19th, 2012

Cuts in executive positions at struggling Erlanger

With Erlanger Health System having lost millions of dollars in recent months, it was perhaps not surprising that Erlanger announced plans this week to cut six of 15 executive positions.

Interim CEO Charlesetta Woodard-Thompson made it clear those cuts are not the full extent of Erlanger's efforts to become more profitable.

"Our primary focus is to start the next fiscal year without a deficit," Woodard-Thompson wrote in a memo to employees. "A key component of our labor management plan was to initiate a reorganization that includes the three-step process of reduction, stabilizing operations and revenue growth. This process required starting with a realignment of the executive team."

Erlanger, which gets public funding, provides excellent care to countless Chattanoogans as well as many people from the surrounding region -- and has done so for more than a century.

But it is sadly not immune to financial difficulties, and those difficulties have forced the hospital to do some restructuring.

"These are trying times, and I know everyone is working hard," Woodard-Thompson wrote in the announcement of the executive shakeup. "You have my assurance we will continue to take a thoughtful, careful approach to managing costs without impacting quality patient care."

We do not envy Erlanger's leaders and its other employees the complex task of maintaining high standards for patient care while keeping costs under control, and we lament any job losses that may prove necessary in that effort. But we have every confidence that Erlanger will continue to be an important source of top-notch medical care for many people in this area.

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