Long-time Garrard hospital employees will miss their jobs

September 02, 2003|PHIL PENDLETON

LANCASTER - When Debbie Grubbs began working at Garrard County Memorial Hospital, she was still in high school. "As a dietary aide, I cleaned dishes," Grubbs reminisces.

A registered nurse and emergency room supervisor, Grubbs is a 21-year veteran at the hospital. She is among the employees who lost their jobs as operations were suspended last Friday.

"I've seen a lot of things happen," she said. "The last 10 years have been trying on us."

Grubbs has seen the state nearly shut down the hospital and its employees take part in a petition drive to get a provider tax approved to pay off debt. "We've hung together," she said.

Grubbs and Brunette Arnold, a co-worker and administrative assistant, have weathered a lot together. Arnold has been at GCMH 17 years. They said about 50 hospital employees would be searching for other employment in the wake of the hospital's suspension of operations.


Worried about not having insurance

Arnold and Grubbs said they have not been offered any kind of "severance package." They said they expect to receive pay for vacation days not used and other paid time off, but like the other employees, they are worried about not having insurance. "Everybody is concerned about that," Grubbs said.

Grubbs said she is not sure what she will do for other employment. She plans to take some time off, but is not ready for retirement. "I have no intentions of going to a bigger hospital," she said. "I'll be looking for something similar to this ... maybe Fort Logan (the hospital in Stanford)."

Arnold said she doesn't expect to lose her job right away, as she will be responsible for completing some of the final paperwork. Like Grubbs, she doesn't want to work in a "large city." She harbors some hope that she could possibly work for the long-term care facility. "I know the good Lord will take care of me," she said.

Hospital board chairman Leonard Smith has nothing but praise for the work Arnold and Grubbs and the other hospital employees have done. "They are a part of the operation in the medical community that has excelled," he said. "The whole medical staff has excelled in their jobs."

Neither woman has many regrets, but Arnold said she was disappointed that negotiations fell through with St. Joseph Health Care several years ago that would have resulted in a new hospital serving Stanford and Lancaster between the two cities.

Their patients are sad

Grubbs said while she and the other employees are obviously disappointed, their "clientele," the patients, are sad. "They've cried. I've cried," she said. "A lot of our patients tell us they would rather come here than go to Lexington. We have such a small number of patients-to-nurse ratio." Grubbs said at GCMH, there have been three or four patients to one nurse, whereas in larger hospitals one nurse serves 18 patients.

Arnold said she got a phone call recently from a woman who had been rushed to the GCMH emergency room and was pronounced dead on arrival, but was revived and then sent on to a hospital in Lexington. "'What am I going to do?'" Arnold said the woman asked her. "'I can't go to Pattie A. Clay (in Richmond).'"

"I don't know what we are going to do without the ER," Grubbs said. "Somebody told me the other day that his best friend wouldn't be alive today (without the emergency room) ... that we had saved his life here twice.

"When this closes, there are going to be lives lost in the future," said Arnold.

Grubbs said the closing of the hospital hasn't hit here yet. "For 21 years I have come here. This will be the first Christmas since 1973 that I will not work either Christmas Day or Eve."

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