CHESTER, SC (WBTV) - In the middle of this pandemic, one local hospital system is laying off dozens of healthcare workers because of money issues. 900 people at the Medical University of South Carolina will temporarily lose their jobs.
This includes more than 70 workers at locations in both Lancaster and Chester counties. MUSC says it had to do this to protect the short and long term efforts of the health system.
An MUSC Health spokesperson says about 50 people are being laid off at MUSC Lancaster and about 24 in MUSC Chester. She says care team members are being laid off but didn’t answer what positions.
MUSC Lancaster will close certain areas to the public. Outpatient physical therapy, outpatient radiology, the cardiac and pulmonary rehab and the behavioral unit will be closed.
At MUSC Chester, there will still be some services available. Outpatient surgeries, emergency services, and Chester nursing center will stay open.
People in Chester say they hate to see the hospital close because they depend on it.
”If people around here start getting sick and it starts rising where are they going to go? And how far are they going to have to travel to get help?” says one woman who has lived in Chester County for years.
”It can be the difference between life and death,” says Michelle Edwards, who is nervous about parts of the hospital closing. “It’s scary. You want to go somewhere quickly and you don’t have that.
The closest hospital from Chester Medical Center is Piedmont Medical Center—about 35 minutes away in Rock Hill. The travel time in an ambulance can sometimes take 45 minutes up to an hour. It not only takes up time, but resources. Chester County EMS Director Britt Lineberger says a roundtrip to Piedmont could take three hours.
“It’s difficult to respond to calls in Chester from Rock Hill or Lancaster,” says Lineberger. “I feel bad for Chester County. You don’t want to lose a hospital and Chester County doesn’t need to lose the hospital. The hospital is an important part of Chester County.”
MUSC Lancaster CEO put out this statement: Obviously, decisions such as these are never easy to make,especially when our care team members are considered family and we worry about each other’s personal well-being” said Page Vaughan, CEO of MUSC Health Lancaster System. “Every effort will be made to ensure our care team members have assistance in connecting with internal and external resources during this temporary time frame.
An MUSC Health spokeperson says the changes will last through the end of June 2020. If there is a need for more care team members, some of the laid off employees could be asked to come back.