Below is a story in the Old Colony Memorial newspaper, which describes a “voluntary resignation plan” to cut costs and avoid pending layoffs. The MNA is quoted in the article opposing any cuts to RN staffing at the facility, and instead argues for cuts in other areas, such as technology, before any caregivers are terminated. Read the full story below.
Jordan Hospital looks to workers to close $3.6 million gap
PLYMOUTH — Forced to cuts millions, Jordan Hospital is hoping voluntary resignations can stave off layoffs.
The hospital sent letters to all of its nearly 1,500 full- and part-time employees over the weekend, announcing provisions of a voluntary resignation program. Workers who opt to leave the hospital next month would get 13 weeks severance pay, along with other benefits.
The hospital says it needs to cut $3.7 million in personnel costs. That represents at least 43 full-time employees.
Workers have until July 17 to elect to participate in the voluntary resignation plan. If not enough employees decide to resign, the hospital will begin making layoffs to make up the difference.
The hospital has already made $3.6 million in cuts since January, through attrition and cuts in non-personnel items. Hospital Spokesman Chris Smalley said the $3.6 million represented the equivalent of 43 full-time employees.
The hospital currently has 1,488 full- and part-time employees.
Of those, 715 service, clerical and technical workers are members of Local 1199 of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU). Another 356 are members of the Massachusetts Nurses Association (MNA). The remaining 417 employees are non-union personnel.
Jordan Hospital President Peter Holden sent them all letters outlining the program Friday. The hospital also sent letters to the two unions, officially notifying them that layoffs will begin in 30 days if the voluntary resignation program does not meet its goals.
Smalley attributed the hospital’s financial woes to major ongoing cuts in reimbursement from Medicare, Medicaid and health insurers.
“In addition to the reimbursement cuts, we are experiencing a sustained inpatient volume decrease of approximately 9 percent and reduced reimbursements for care provided,” Smalley said. “The decline in patient volume is a direct result of healthcare payment reform – providing better care to our patients, and admitting only patients that truly require hospitalization. It is not due to a decline in our market share.”
The hospital has said it received $7.3 million less this year in reimbursements from Medicare, Medicaid and health insurers and needed to reduce expenses accordingly.
“The cost reduction measure already implemented since January and the current voluntary resignation program help to bring the hospital into alignment with the fiscal reality of reduced reimbursements, high expenses and a decline in patient volume,” Smalley said.
The unions were already well aware of the voluntary resignation program. Union representatives have been working with the hospital since March in an effort to minimize the impact of the reductions and helped negotiate the benefits package.
Representatives from both unions said they were glad to have had a voice in the process but remain concerned about the hospital’s ability to provide the highest quality care while making staff reductions.
“Our members are doing the best they can and we are going to be monitoring the staffing levels closely,” 1199 Vice President Jerry Fishbein said.
David Schildmeier, spokesman for the MNA, said the offer is decent but should be richer if the hospital really wants to convince people to resign voluntary.
“Our main concern is that there can’t be any cuts in staffing,” Schildmeier said. “Our nurses have been working at capacity for a long time…There’s no way to get around the fact that hospitals are in business to take care of patients and the most important component is the right number of nurses.”
Schildmeier suggested the hospital should consider making cuts in the amount of money it spends on technology instead of people.
“You can have the best technology in the world but if you don’t have nurses to monitor patients it’s all for naught,” he said.
The hospital’s offer includes seven different payments and benefits.
They are 13 weeks of severance, continued hospital contributions to health and dental insurance through the state’s insurance plan for up to eight months, payment for accrued but unused earned time, payment of 25 percent of unused long-term sick time, eligibility for state unemployment benefits after 13 weeks, the opportunity to attend a group session with an outplacement firm and eligibility to reapply for jobs when and if vacancies arise.
The health insurance contributions would extend for 18 months for employees who are 60 or older.
Participants will have until July 17 to sign up for the program. The hospital reserves the right to reject any employee’s request to participate if the hospital thinks that employee’s termination would be detrimental to the hospital.
The hospital will notify workers next week if they are selected for the program. The program calls for participants to resign Aug. 25