Carthage Area Hospital replaces three top staffers

Carthage Area Hospital. Watertown Daily Times

CARTHAGE — Less than a month after Carthage Area Hospital and Claxton-Hepburn Medical Center announced cuts to their workforces, three administrators at Carthage Area Hospital were informed Friday morning that they were being let go. Once they had been notified, the positions were filled, effective immediately.

Natalie Burnham, Carthage Area Hospital’s former chief operating officer, Steve Olson RN, the hospital’s former director of nursing, and Mark Decilles, former administrator of outpatient clinics, were let go Friday. The three were replaced by Eric Burch, former president of Gouverneur Hospital, as chief operating officer; Julie Smithers, RN, as the new director of nursing; and Randy Fipps as administrator of outpatient clinics. The three have shared responsibilities at both hospitals, as Taylour L. Scanlin, Carthage Area Hospital’s director of marketing, said there are many shared positions between the two facilities.

“When we announced our layoffs several weeks ago, we are looking to find efficiencies and balance the financial health of both organizations, both Claxton-Hepburn and Carthage Area Hospital, and we had adapted our leadership structure to meet those needs,” Ms. Scanlin said. “It’s never easy and it’s not a place you want to be in, but we’re trying to do what’s best for the organization.”

Last month, it was announced that Claxton-Hepburn Medical Center and Carthage Area Hospital were cutting up to 4% of the workforce at each institution. A joint news release from the two hospitals cited “decreasing patient volumes caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, changing demographics, and an evolving market” as reasons for the cuts.

The reduction was the first in the workforce since 2015 for CHMC and 2014 for CAH, the release said.

“It’s part of the larger plan of restructuring the organization; we just had to adapt our leadership structure more or less, as we’re looking towards the future and what our initiatives are looking like, and health care is changing every single day, so it’s making those really tough decisions that no one likes to make by any means,” Ms. Scanlin said. “Claxton-Hepburn Medical Center and Carthage Area Hospital have been working collaboratively and have identified efficiencies that balance the financial health of the organizations. We adapted our leadership structure to meet our changing needs.”

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