Layoffs, position eliminations at St. Elizabeth Medical Center

By NEWSChannel 2 Staff

UTICA, N.Y. - St. Elizabeth Medical Center has announced layoffs and the elimination of vacant positions in what they call a restructuring of the hospital.

According to a release, the reduction in staff is being implemented "to ensure the hospital's long-term sustainability. The delivery of safe, high-quality patient care remains the primary focus and patient care will not be affected."

St. Elizabeth Medical Center currently employs 1,951 people, ten of which will be laid off, officials stated. Roughly 40 vacant positions will be eliminated.

Hospital officials stated that the employees worked in all areas of the Medical Center and ranged from executive leadership to administrative to those with direct-care responsibilities.

"Many individuals will be offered the opportunity to apply for any vacant position for which they qualify. Due to a prolonged decrease in hospital inpatients, one medical/surgical unit, 2D, was closed effective June 24," the notice states.

"These are extremely difficult decisions in challenging economic times," said Richard Ketcham, President/CEO. "We have a responsibility and an obligation to the community we serve, the Medical Center and its Board of Trustees to ensure the long-term fiscal health of the organization, while continuing to meet our mission. This further demonstrates the importance of success in our affiliation plans with Faxton St. Luke's Healthcare, which we are still pursuing diligently."

Numerous factors led to the reduction of the Medical Center's workforce including the decreased reimbursement to hospitals by New York State Medicaid over multiple years. In addition, Medicare reimbursements have not kept pace with the high cost of care.

According to hospital officials, St. Elizabeth Medical Center has experienced more than $11 million of New York State Medicaid cuts in the past three years. New York State's ongoing budget crisis presents immense financial challenges to patient-care providers, who continue to receive cuts to their payments, officials stated in the release.

"We will continue to work with our elected officials on achieving Medicaid reform that includes the redesign of the Medicaid system," Mr. Ketcham said.

Vice President Human Resources Patrick Buckley added, "Administration is aware that this layoff affects not only the Medical Center organization, but individuals and families. We understand that valued employees and others are affected in this process. The Human Resources Department is currently working to support our employees and departments."

Hospital officials said no further details would be released on the matter and no interviews, either by phone or in person would be granted on the matter.

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