RAPID CITY, S.D. -

Get ready -- your local healthcare services will be changing.

How soon the modifications will occur is not settled. Rapid City Regional Health system is looking at the future of some hospitals and looking to reduce its workforce to trim costs.

Instead of layoffs, 50 employees age 60 and older who have worked at least five years for Regional Health are being offered early retirement opportunities if they act by October.

Regional Health administrators also are looking at what medical care communities like Deadwood, Sturgis and Spearfish can sustain for years to come.

Lead–Deadwood Regional Hospital Chief Executive Sherry Bea Smith says the studies are just beginning.

"Every community within Regional Health is looking at ways that we can provide the most efficient care possible. Some of that may be construction, some may be consolidation, some involves making sure that we are not overlapping services, duplicating services where we don't need to be doing that."

Potential changes range from merging hospitals to establishing local emergency clinics to expanding existing services.

The Deadwood medical complex handles needs of 1.5 million annual casino visitors, skiers and snowmobilers ... and a community that is seeing more students but also a growing senior group needing care funded by Medicare.

Deadwood Mayor Chuck Turbiville serves on the hospital advisory board and says the study is needed and timely.

"I look forward to the study, to see hopefully where we can better the service to the people of the communities of Lead and Deadwood."

Rapid City Regional Health administration says the retirements can happen system wide under a program that Human Resources vice president Maureen Henson says was announced earlier this month.

“Basically the intent of an early retirement program or voluntary retirement program is to try to manage the workforce and reduce costs. The work is going to be reallocated and the positions are not intended to be refilled."

Regional Health has 4,500 employees and a $278 million yearly payroll. How much the voluntary retirements might trim from the budget has not been announced.