The past few months have been a roller coaster ride for Jackson Health System. After years of shouldering the cost of providing increased charity care for the community, Jackson has reached a crossroads; we can no longer afford to provide all of these critical services without making significant changes necessary to bring in the revenue needed to support such a lofty mission.
Jackson’s financial crisis was not created overnight, it has taken years to get to this critical point. It was simply compounded and accelerated due to the devastating downturn in the economy that brought more unfunded patients through our doors and significantly less in funding and tax support.
Many different scenarios, plans and discussions have taken place in recent weeks, which have led to some confusion in the community. The issues affecting Jackson are often very complex and continually changing as meetings are held, input is gathered and assistance is received. While these changes may have led to confusion or frustration due to a perceived lack of action, we are simply doing the due diligence necessary to avoid making rash decisions. These decisions impact many lives and we must make sure every option is thoroughly explored.
Throughout this process, we have been fortunate and grateful to have the support and assistance from the county, our unions, academic affiliates and other community partners who all realize the importance of Jackson’s survival.
While some things are still uncertain, our entire executive leadership team, our governing body, the Public Health Trust, and our more than 11,000 employees are committed to finding long-term solutions to ensure Jackson continues to be here for the community.
We know substantial changes are needed to adjust our current businessmodel and operations in order for Jackson to become sustainable. In the past 10 months, our management team has shown urgency and has made great strides in increasing efficiencies, reducing the number of executives and consultants, and cutting unnecessary expenses.
The Public Health Trust Board of Trustees has also created three new ad hoc committees to assist in implementing our “Sustainable Jackson” cash stabilization plan to increase our current cash on hand so we can continue to meet our financial obligations through this fiscal year. They will also build proposals for long-term sustainability.
One committee will focus on financial sustainability for the entire health system, another will focus on Jackson North Medical Center and a third will be for Jackson South Community Hospital. Each will meet weekly and is comprised of members of the Public Health Trust Board and community members.
We also have plans to consolidate and/or eliminate some services, which will result in a reduction in our workforce. These decisions have not been easy nor taken lightly. Many of the changes will eliminate duplicate services at multiple facilities or services that are provided elsewhere in the community.
Throughout this process, patient care has remained and will continue to maintain our utmost attention and priority. We are the people’s health system; we are here to serve you. Our facilities, including Jackson North and Jackson South, are open and continuing to meet the needs of the communities they serve.
We simply ask that the community continue to support Jackson. People travel from around the world for the expertise of our doctors and the leading- edge treatment options, and we are fortunate to have these resources so close to home. So take advantage of this community jewel. Use Jackson for your medical needs. Recommend Jackson to your family and friends. We are here to serve you. And we are working hard to ensure Jackson remains here for many more decades to come.
For more information on how you can support Jackson, go to < www.SupportJackson.org >.