Hospice of the Bluegrass cuts more jobs, to close palliative care center in Lexington

mmeehan1@herald-leader.comMay 13, 2014 

Hospice of the Bluegrass, the non-profit agency that cares for the terminally ill in 32 Kentucky counties, has laid off 28 workers, cut back on inpatient beds and will close a palliative-care clinic in Lexington by the end of May.

The recently announced layoffs represent a 20 percent reduction in staff since the beginning of the year, including 46 people cut in January and 47 people who have left the organization but whose jobs were not filled.

In January, hospice employed 617 people. The staff is now 496. Last year, Hospice of the Bluegrass served 5,271 people with a $60 million budget, said Susan Ware, vice president of development.

Those laid off have been offered a severance package, she said.

In a news release, hospice leaders said an 11 percent cut in reimbursements since 2009 have led "Hospice of the Bluegrass to make some adjustments."

Ware said hospice is exploring other ways to care for the 157 patients served in the palliative-care center, which helped patients with chronic illness deal with symptoms and pain. The clinic will close May 30.

She also said that the number of inpatient hospice beds at St. Joseph Hospital in Lexington are being cut from 17 to 12, a 30 percent reduction.

The number of beds at the Greg and Noreen Wells Hospice Care Center in Hazard will be cut in half, from 12 to six. The $6.5 million inpatient center opened in May 2011 as part of an 8-acre, $13.5 million campus that includes administrative offices, Ware said.

Ware said the reduced number of beds better reflects the inpatient needs of each of the communities.

In addition to cutting staff and beds, Ware said, hospice has physically consolidated some offices to reduce overhead costs.

Hospice of the Bluegrass serves the terminally ill and their family, working with those who have been given six months or less to live.

Mary Meehan: (859) 231-3261. Twitter: @bgmoms. Blog: BluegrassMoms.com.

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