SRMC: No buyout, but 10 layoffs

SALEM — Salem Regional Medical Center quashed a rumor of a buyout Thursday in a prepared statement, but also announced a workforce reduction equal to 26 full-time positions mostly through attrition and including 10 by elimination.

“SRMC is not being bought out by University Hospitals (UH) or any other organization. Last fall our board chose to bring world class cancer care to our region through a strategic partnership with the UH Seidman Cancer Center to provide medical oncology and radiation therapy to benefit our area’s cancer patients. This means that we affiliated with the UH Seidman Cancer Center as one of the nation’s top cancer providers to offer local access to advanced cancer care. We remain committed to continuing to serve our patients as an independent, non-profit, community hospital,” the statement from Anita A. Hackstedde, M.D., SRMC President/CEO, said.

The hospital’s maternity ward closed a week ago, ending a longtime tradition of births at the facility, and the Salem Women’s Health Partners for gynecology and obstetrics will close June 30.

In the written statement, Hackstedde said that was “the first step in realigning our core services in response to the decreased demand for maternity services as our region’s population ages and birth rates drop. At the same time, our investment in outpatient primary care services, world-class cancer care, advanced orthopaedics, and

state-of-the-art specialty and diagnostic capabilities are important parts of our strategic plan that align SRMC with the growing demand for these services.”

She addressed the workforce reduction by saying, “In order to maintain SRMC’s strength as our region’s health care leader, we are rebalancing our workforce to appropriately match the demand for patient services, in addition to continuing to improve our efficiencies through cost-reduction and service-growth strategies. After extensive study, we have determined the need to reduce our workforce by approximately 26 full-time equivalents (FTEs). The majority of the FTE reduction is occurring by reducing hours and not filling open positions that were vacated after retirements or resignations, with job eliminations accounting for 10 of the FTEs. SRMC’s management team has also been working diligently behind the scenes to reduce non-personnel expenses and supply costs.”

“Staff reductions and/or reduced work hours are focused on areas that should not have a significant impact on patient care, with the exception of those affected by the maternity unit’s recent closure. The majority of these staff adjustments will occur in non-clinical departments as we realign our workforce and services to focus on the needs of our aging population and address the region’s growth in cancer, chronic disease and outpatient demand for improved population health and wellness. Although these decisions are extremely difficult and we do not take them lightly, they will make SRMC a stronger hospital and enable us to enhance our services and respond to the needs and preferences of our communities,” she said.

According to Hackstedde, SRMC is facing some of the same challenges as other hospitals due to a “rapidly changing health care environment, as hospitals are under great pressure to shift to outpatient care, improve quality and lower the cost of care; while their reimbursement from third-party payors continues to decline.”

“As SRMC tackles these national trends, we are also experiencing local changes due to our aging population and increasing demand for chronic disease care. In light of these environmental factors, we have been working diligently to realign our services to meet our communities’ changing needs; as well as address the ongoing decline in reimbursement, which frequently doesn’t cover a hospital’s cost to provide care,” she noted.

The hospital employs close to 1,000 workers.