TAMPA, Fla. (FOX 13) - Tampa-based Laser Spine Institute has announced it is shutting down, leaving hundreds of employees without jobs.
The company made the announcement Friday that it will cease operations effective immediately, citing financial troubles.
Shock-waves rippled through the corporate headquarters after the company announced it was laying off its entire workforce of more than 500 people.
The closure affects workers at the company's surgical center in Tampa as well as other locations in Ohio, Arizona and Missouri.
Ryan and Tina Ernde just had a newborn baby. Tina was set to return to work next week from maternity leave, but now both of them are out of a job. Ryan says meetings were called around 4:30 p.m. Friday, informing employees of the closing -- leaving many of them walking out in tears.
“This is the best job I’ve ever had," Ryan Ernde said. "And I can’t believe I have to leave it.”
The couple had been with the company for more than 5 years. But their celebration over welcoming their new baby is now overshadowed with frustration.
“She’s just a few weeks old," Tina Ernde said. "So there is a lot going through our minds but it's just a big shock.”
The closure also stunned patients scheduled for surgery. Some of them flew across the country for their procedure.
“I’ve spent a lot of money to get here," Kurt Loosenort said. "My wife and I know I need this help. Where am I going to go for more help?”
Kurt Loosenort flew from Grand Rapids, Michigan and booked an 8-night hotel stay ahead of his surgery Tuesday. He’s now out more than $3,000 in expenses after a getting phone call from his nurse.
“She started to choke up and cry," Loosenort said. "She said, 'No, I’m not teasing,' and I pressed her one more time. 'You’re really serious about this?' She says, 'Yes, our doors are closed.'”
The Laser Spine Institute specialized in minimally-invasive spine surgery, and said it is now reaching out to notify all patients who were slated for surgery about the company's closing. The company said it will work with patients to attempt to find surgical centers in their areas to see if those companies can take on the additional surgeries. They said they will also provide facilities for any patients who need post-operative care.
“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 Laser Spine Institute CEO Jake Brace in a statement.