Centra eliminates 18 positions, more cuts possible

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LYNCHBURG, Va. (WDBJ7) -- One of Lynchburg's largest employers announced it will be cutting jobs.

Centra, the region’s health care system, notified employees that some leadership roles would be eliminated. “The entire organization is included in this," explained Michael Elliott, Centra's senior vice president and chief operating officer. “In general, reimbursements are going down, expresses are going up.”

So, leaders at Centra are working on what’s called "benchmarking."

It’s a study that compares key metrics of a company’s operations to other similar organizations.

Last month, the health organizations eliminated some executive positions and as of this week, 18 leadership roles were cut. “Anytime you have a regional employer that talks about layoffs, it causes us to pause," explained Christine Kennedy, the chief operating officer at Lynchburg Regional Business Alliance.

However, Kennedy said it’s important for a company to conduct benchmark studies.

With an unemployment rate of less than 4 percent in the region, she remains optimistic. “We’re going to fully support them with that and we’re going to help those employees find other jobs," she said.

The last benchmark study conducted at Centra was in 2013.

Elliott says it will now be a more consistent practice, even during the hiring process. “I’d rather be in the situation where we hold off on a position rather than getting down the road and having to take the position away," Elliott said.

The cuts will not affect patient care, Elliot reaffirmed; and he says he’s been communicating with employees about what may come next. “We’re going to make sure we get through the assessments of all of our departments as quickly as possible because we don’t people walking on egg shells.”

As of Wednesday, Centra has a new CEO.

Andy Muller hails from Charlotte, N.C. He will also be helping during the benchmark study process.

Elliott says they plan to have the next portion of their study complete over the next few weeks.