NATIONWIDE — More than 500 employees of Laser Spine Institute were informed Friday afternoon that the company was shutting down all operations. 

  • Statement cited financial issues for closing
  • Patients, staff members blindsided by news
  • Company says it will help refer patients to other surgeons

In a statement released Friday, the company cited financial issues as the reasoning behind them closing their doors.

"Despite significant cost saving activities over the last 6 months – including closing three surgical centers – that dramatically reduced its operating cost structure, the company has been unable to achieve a financially sustainable path forward." said M. Kathleen Donald, the company's chief marketing officer in the public statement.

Headquartered in Tampa, the company until today also had facilities in Cincinnati, Scottsdale and St. Louis. Donald went on to say in her statement that Laser Spine Institute was reaching out to other surgical providers in those cities to determine whether they could absorb the additional surgical demand.

At the same time, the company said they were reaching out to patients with scheduled surgeries to refer them to other nearby options. 

According to Donald's statement, the company had attempted to right their finances by closing three other surgical centers, and had achieved "an operational turnaround." However, they were unable to attract funding necessary to undertake Chapter 11 bankruptcy in order to continue operating.

“My heart goes out to our great, dedicated staff who have stuck with us through all of our adversity and worked so tirelessly to help us right the ship,” said Jake Brace, Laser Spine Institute’s CEO.

Patients, staff react

The news that the Institute was closing and scheduled procedures were being canceled took many patients and staff members by surprise. For some, it was devastating.

"I was stunned," said Kurt Loosenort, a patient from Michigan. "Like, I’m here, I flew here. My wife and I got lodging here. We planned to be here for a week. I’ve got people praying for us. What do we do?"

For Donny Murdock, a patient from Alabama, the surgery was his hope for getting his life back.

"It keeps you from doing a normal life," Murdock said. "Picking up, doing your job. Playing with your kids, your grandkids. It changes your life when you have back troubles."

Meanwhile, employees we spoke to were just as blindsided by the news that they were suddenly out of work.

"I cried," said Sheri Borkowski. "I was upset. You know, it’s a job, it’s something that I put my love and my care and my effort into."

In addition to handling the news themselves, some employees like Kim Stinedurf had to break the bad news to patients expecting care.

"Today was probably one of the hardest days I’ve had to endure," Stinedurf told us. "I believe in LSI. I believe in the surgeons. I believe in what we do and what we present to the patients. But closing the doors was one of the hardest things I had to do and break patients' hearts, telling them they can’t have surgery."