Tuesday June 25, 2013

St. Elizabeth Medical Center in Utica cuts staff

Major employer in Oneida County eliminates 40 vacant positions

    St. Elizabeth Medical Center in Utica announced today that a staff reduction 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,” a spokesperson said.

    St. E's is a nonprofit private organization sponsored by the Sisters of St. Francis of the Neumann Communities.

    St. E's employs 1,951 people. Ten employees were laid off and approximately 40 vacant positions will be eliminated. It is ranked among the top-5 employers in Oneida County.

    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 yesterday.

    “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, the spokesperson added.

    St. E's has experienced over $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, the spokesperson said.

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