Liberty Medical says it will lay off more employees

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. - Liberty Medical Supply will lay off 260 employees next month, according to a Wednesday notice.

Employees also were notified Monday of across-the-board pay cuts of at least 20 percent beginning Tuesday, according to a letter emailed to them.

"As we started updating financial information two weeks ago it became clear that we needed to take immediate cost cutting steps to ensure the ongoing viability of the business," wrote President and CEO Frank Harvey, who couldn't be reached for comment Wednesday.

The company announced last month it would lay off 250 employees from its Port St. Lucie location after its new owners decided to exit the Medicare fee-for-service business at the beginning of this year. The company also laid off 105 employees last year after hiring more than 500 employees.

The layoffs, scheduled for Feb. 16, will bring the number of employees in Port St. Lucie to between 940 and 1,040, Harvey previously has said. At the beginning of last year, Liberty Medical reported to St. Lucie County that it had 2,432 employees.

Based on that larger number, Liberty Medical has been considered the county's largest private employer, followed by HCA, which includes the Lawnwood Regional and St. Lucie medical centers, with 2,350 employees and Walmart, which includes its distribution facility and retail stores, with 1,653 employees.

Liberty employees will be given severance packages depending on their positions, Harvey previously said. Some of the company's outgoing business will be turned over to Coral Springs-based Arriva Medical, which likely will hire several hundred employees from Liberty Medical for at least six months, he said.

The company is cutting pay to ensure it's profitable this year, wrote Harvey in the emailed letter. The reductions will apply to base salaries and not sales commission, he wrote.

"We understand that these salary reductions are significant and many employees will have to seek work elsewhere in order to cover their personal financial commitments," Harvey wrote. "We will do all that we can to work with you in this process. This is not a decision that we take lightly however it is a decision that is required in order for Liberty to ensure long-term profitability."

County Economic Development Council President Larry Pelton, County Chamber of Commerce President Linda Cox and local government officials declined to comment on the significance of the layoffs.

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