Mission Health President and CEO Dr. Ron Paulus informed employees in a letter at the end of August that the hospital will be laying off some employees as part of an effort to reduce costs.
According to the letter, the hospital is being forced to eliminate about 70 positions to reduce the hospitals overall operating costs. “There will be some caregivers (fewer than 70) who are nonetheless impacted by a job loss,” reads the letter.
Paulus explained that the 70 positions do not necessarily mean 70 individuals, as the hospital will try to save as many jobs as possible through attrition. “For any job elimination, we will work hard to find an alternative role that is appropriate for the skills and experience of that individual,” the letter states.
Angel Medical Center's President and CEO Jim Bross explained that as a full affiliate member of Mission Health, any time there are job losses it can have an impact on Angel as well as other member hospitals but, “at present, there are no specific jobs or functions directly impacted at Angel Medical Center,” said Bross.
While there are no direct effects being predicted for AMC, Bross says there are potential long-reaching effects that can surface.
“These Mission job losses can impact AMC directly or indirectly either through our local caregivers’ concerns for colleagues and friends in Asheville or through effectiveness of regional services delivery in support of operations here at AMC,” said Bross. “We are not aware of any immediate impact on either services or quality. We at Angel specifically have different challenges in the form of appropriately responding to and managing growth in our patient services, adding new primary and specialty physicians and advanced practitioners ... and our focus is on improving service quality and patient experience.”
Paulus made the decision to cut his own pay by 26 percent beginning in 2014. Compensation for senior vice presidents, presidents and directors will also be reduced as a means to balance the budget. The letter also states that three vice president positions have also been eliminated.
Mission Hospital's financial situation has been uncertain as of late, as the hospital has been dealing with various issues, including healthcare reform, the federal sequestration and its impact, and the state’s decision not to expand the Medicaid program. Over the next 10 years, Mission Health anticipates a loss of about $350 million in funding.
The 10-year impact that the lack of Medicaid funding, the federal sequestration and healthcare reform act is projected to have on AMC is approximately $7.9 million.
According to Bross, Paulus' decision to eliminate positions in an attempt to prepare for looming budget shortfalls, is a necessary step. “The difficult decisions related to jobs or labor costs being made ... are essentially a short term bridge to allow all of us within Mission to become more efficient and costeffective in our care delivery within Western North Carolina,” said Bross. “None of that changes our commitment as a system to providing ‘care close to home so long as it is safe and effective.’ For us in Macon County that is translated as a relentless commitment to improving and maintaining quality and patient experience while being good stewards of available resources. We, along with all Mission Health member hospitals are committed to driving out waste while ensuring the highest safe and effective standards of care for our community.”
Bross pointed out that the financial struggles currently facing Mission Health are not unique to the hospital. Other health systems such as Duke Health, WakeMed, Mountain States Health Alliance, and Novant Health have all faced significantly more devastating cuts to maintain operations.
According to AMC's August Board of Trustees meeting, the hospital is expecting a five percent overall growth for inpatient admissions in 2014 over 2013.
Angel Medical Center is taking a proactive approach to anticipated budget shortfalls.
“We in Franklin and Macon County have the opportunity to offset some of the reimbursement and financial challenges facing all hospitals in North Carolina, with moderate growth in our patient services,” said Bross. “Our current plan for 2014 actually calls for a modest number of new jobs (10-20) dependent on meeting specific patient volume growth targets in the local community. These few new caregiver positions are needed to respond to the growth areas.”