WEST PLAINS, Mo. — A local healthcare system has announced that over a hundred positions will be “reduced.”

Ozarks Healthcare said in a press release that approximately 130 “full-time equivalent positions,” will be reduced due to inflation. 30 of the positions were vacant and another 30 were changing from full-time to part-time.

Destiny Brewer was one of the 70 employees at the West Plains location whose position was eliminated.

“I didn’t feel like there was a lot of humility to it or compassion to it. It was like, ‘You’re fired. Let me have your badge. We’ll walk you to your car,'” said Brewer.

Ozarks Healthcare is also restructuring throughout the organization to decrease expenses, according to the release.

“The strategy was that if you were a nurse that wasn’t in patient care, we wanted you to come back to patient care… Nurses are still very hard for us to find,” said Josh Reeves, Vice President of Development and Advocacy at Ozarks Healthcare. “Costs are rising all over the country has mostly to do with inflation and market pressure on labor costs. Our labor cost and supply costs have just continued to rise in the last two years. So we have to start making financial decisions so we can still provide the services that we need for the community.”

Howell County is currently in a “healthcare drought,” meaning that Ozarks Healthcare is one of the few places people in South-Central Missouri can find healthcare.

“Our mission has always been and will remain to provide exceptional and compassionate care to all we serve and we are deeply committed to that mission,” Tom Keller, Ozarks Healthcare President and CEO, said. “This means we must take the difficult steps and measures to meet these challenging times so we can ensure our financial stability.”

Ozarks Healthcare said they are still striving to provide the best care possible for people in rural communities. “We really think that patient care will still be the high quality that we already offer here,” said Reeves.

However, Destiny Brewer said that the decision to reduce the workforce is not only hurting the community but also leaving many workers like her scrambling to make ends meet.

“We’ll get our bills paid. It’s going to be really tough. Um, we don’t know what Christmas is now. Look like. My daughter doesn’t have health care now. I felt discarded. I really did,” said Brewer.

Ozarks Healthcare serves South-Central Missouri and northern Arkansas, with its main campus located in West Plains.