Help for dislocated workers announced

Rapid response sessions will be held on Friday to help the workers affected by the closing of Pioneer Community Hospital of Patrick.

Chris Pope, manager of the Virginia Employment Commission (VEC) in Martinsville, said sessions are designed to provide affected workers with “as much information as we can as quickly as we can.”

Officials were told 140 people lost their job when the hospital closed Friday, “but did not get any specific breakdown” of the number per job, Pope said.

Wanda Whitlow, manager of the local office of the Virginia Workforce Center, said the sessions will be held at the hospital at 9 and 10:30 a.m. and noon.

Employment, retraining opportunities and other pertinent information will be shared during each session, Pope said. Each session also will include a question and answer period, he added.

Pope said workers are considered dislocated, and as such, retraining opportunities may be available.

“We encourage everybody to apply if that’s the direction they wanted to go in,” Pope said.

Whitlow said she and her staff have assembled informational packets to distribute during the three sessions. The packets include information from the Workforce Development, VEC, training opportunities at Patrick Henry Community College, adult education offerings and other potential opportunities from partnering agencies.

Pope said officials did not know the hospital planned to close until it was announced on Sept. 13.

“We usually don’t find out until the last minute. It is seldom that we get any kind of notice,”

Pope said. “I will say Pioneer as an employer has been good to work with. Pioneer did reach out to us, they were willing to host us, and they are willing to work with us to give employees information” needed to move forward.

“We’ve had a positive response from the employer at this point. They’ve been good to work with,” Pope said. “We would appreciate everybody coming (on Friday) to learn about their options so they can make good decisions about moving forward.”

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