Waterbury Hospital has reduced its workforce by the equivalent of 83 full-time workers, with half the cuts achieved by leaving empty positions unfilled. The rest of the cuts come from cutting hours and layoffs.
The jobs lost are clinical and non-clinical, union and non-union, management and support staff, both full and part-time, the hospital said. The cuts were made Wednesday.
Waterbury Hospital had been lobbying against reductions in state money for uncompensated care, which it estimated at $11.3 million over the next two years. The non-profit hospital said these staff reductions would save $5 million a year, and were being done in reaction to the state cuts.
The hospital files financial reports with the state each year, and the most recent data available, from 2011, showed an improving financial picture as the hospital cut operating costs in 2009 and 2010. Also, the amount of uncompensated care fell in 2011, as there were simultaneously fewer bad debts and more people covered by Medicaid.
Medicaid pays significantly less than the cost of care — 66 percent of the cost, according to the filing — and private insurers pay 19 percent more than the cost. At Waterbury Hospital, the largest payer was Medicare, at $97 million, then private insurance, at $89 million, then Medicaid, at close to $29 million.
In 2009, the hospital operated at a loss, and by 2011, it had a 0.34 percent profitability margin, just $808,695 on total operating expenses of $235,702,995.
Spokesman Matthew Burgard said in 2012, the Greater Waterbury Health Network, which includes both the nonprofit hospital and some for-profit affiliates, had a slight profit of $2.3 million, but it was mostly due to one-time payments for transition to electronic health care records.
The Malloy administration has said hospitals will need less money from the state for uncompensated care because more people will have insurance as Obamacare rolls out.
The hospital, in its statement about the layoffs, said those workers are being encouraged to apply for open positions that still exist.
The hospital’s release said: “The hospital is offering its standard severance and benefits package and will work proactively with impacted employees to find employment. Hospital administration has also contacted other hospitals in the region to ask them to consider interviewing and hiring those employees who have been laid off. Diane Woolley, the hospital’s vice president of human resources, is also encouraging local businesses with suitable positions to consider hiring the impacted hospital employees.”
“This action represents a somber moment in our hospital’s history,” said Darlene Stromstad, president and CEO of Waterbury Hospital. “It was a very difficult decision, and not one we made lightly. However, it is our responsibility to make the hard choices necessary to ensure this organization can continue to provide sustainable healthcare to the people of our community.”