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DeKalb Medical lays off 60 workers, announces CEO resignation

DeKalb Medical Center is in flux with scores of recent layoffs, eliminated positions and the resignation of its CEO this week.

About 60 people were laid off and 80 vacant positions were eliminated in recent weeks, hospital spokeswoman Cheryl Iverson confirmed Wednesday. She described CEO John A. Shelton's resignation as unrelated and declined to say why he left.

When asked the reason for the change in leadership, she mentioned the same issue driving the staff reductions: money.

"We haven’t had the financial performance we would hope for. And we’re making a change,” Iverson told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “We’re going full-throttle ahead and trying to improve our performance.”

Efforts to reach Shelton, who'd been with the non-profit hospital group more than a decade, weren't successful Wednesday.

RELATED: DeKalb jury awards $3 million in medical malpractice case

RELATED: How Atlanta's hospital chiefs earn their millions

RELATED: Nearly 107,000 Georgians signed up for Obamacare health plans so far

Bob E. Wilson, an attorney and DeKalb Medical board vice chairman, has been tapped as new CEO effective immediately. Wilson has also chaired the hospital group's foundation board for 14 years, raising millions, according to a news release.

DeKalb Medical, which has about 4,000 employees, runs three hospitals in the Decatur and Lithonia areas.

The group faces similar problems as other health care providers, Iverson said. Among them, the fact that Georgia has declined to expand Medicaid, the number of uninsured people in the area and an ongoing nursing shortage.

With the eliminated jobs, she said the hospital system has managed to avoid losing bedside nurses.

“We did it very carefully," the spokeswoman said. "Of course we will miss those people. We’ve put additional responsibilities on other people.” 

As another cost-saving option, the hospital is also exploring the possibility of a merger. But that would be years away and no potential partners have been identified, Iverson said.

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