News Column

Conifer Health Solutions Cuts 64 Jobs

Jan. 16, 2013

Robyn L. Minor

Employees at Bowling Green's Conifer Health Solutions, formerly part of Dell, were told Tuesday that they would potentially be out of a job as early as March 30.

Texas-based Conifer acquired a portion of Dell's Bowling Green operation in November and began evaluating that acquisition and others.

The 64 employees at the facility, located in the building that houses Western Kentucky University's Center for Research and Development on Nashville Road, are being offered the opportunity to relocate to another Conifer facility, according to Beth Lyons, transition communications manager for the company.

"We have over 100 openings in Kentucky right now," Lyons said.

Conifer handles calls about patient billing and collection on behalf of health care clients.

Lyons said employees who don't transfer will be given severance packages based on their years of service at Dell. Conifer will maintain call centers in Lexington and Louisville. Other centers slated to close are in Atlanta and Nashville.

Dell Services will continue to maintain a presence in Bowling Green with its help desk. It's Dell that leases the 30,000 square feet of space from WKU.

"Before the end of the year, they asked me for a one-year extension on their lease," Doug Rohrer, director of the Center for Research and Development, said of Dell.

Rohrer on Tuesday had not yet received a signed lease back from Dell. The company's current lease runs out in February.

Rohrer was unaware of Conifer's plans to close its operations but said that about 400 workers in all had occupied the space for both companies. So he expects that the bulk of employees will remain there.

Corie Pierce of Dell, to whom calls were referred, said the Conifer closure does not affect the Dell employees in Bowling Green. Pierce said it's company policy not to discuss the number of employees at a particular site. The employees in Bowling Green handle calls from a variety of clients.

Pierce said it's her understanding the Plano-based company does intend to extend its lease with WKU.

As for the Conifer employees, they are eligible to receive help from the state's Rapid Response Team. But team coordinator Jill Lewis said she had not yet been contacted about the closure. Lewis said she planned to call the company and offer the agency's services.

"Companies usually don't turn down our help," Lewis said.

The team brings in representatives from the state Career Services Center, which can provide information about other employment opportunities in the region. And for those who aren't able to find work, the team can provide information about training programs that the unemployed may qualify for.

Even if the company doesn't invite the response team in, Lewis said those employees may contact her directly at 781-2381 or go to the Kentucky Career Center at 803 Chestnut St.

Lewis said the Rapid Response Team has been called out twice this year -- once for a layoff of three people at a Warren County company, and another time for the continuing layoff, closure of a Barren County plant. That closure affects 18 people.

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Distributed by MCT Information Services



Source: (c) 2013 the Daily News (Bowling Green, Ky.)


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