Hospital makes another round of cuts

Just months after a system-wide workforce reduction, Grays Harbor Community Hospital announced further layoffs on Wednesday in its continued effort to restructure in the face of budget woes.

The hospital says it will eliminate the equivalent of eight full-time positions. Just how many people that affects is still being calculated, according to hospital spokesman David Quigg. Some of the positions were part-time or just barely full-time, which makes it harder to figure out.

Quigg said those affected were notified on Wednesday. The positions are scattered throughout the hospital, he said, and include a combination of middle management positions and a few union jobs.

“For those impacted this is definitely devastating news,” Quigg said.

Quigg said the hospital will work with its union on seniority issues and job positions to figure out who will be affected.

“Although our team has done a great job to be more efficient and effective, we believe additional changes are necessary,” hospital CEO Tom Jensen said in a press release. “These are not easy changes to make; it is clear that we have not yet achieved the balance necessary to ensure the long-term financial health of our organization. These transitions will help us continue to serve our community, providing quality care for generations to come.”

Citing a $4 million first-quarter budget gap, the hospital instituted a system-wide workforce reduction in March that affected between 25 to 35 employees. Some saw reduced hours while some were laid off, amounting to about a 6 percent reduction. The cuts affected both union and non-union jobs. At the same time in March, the hospital cut pay by 10 percent for all non-union employees, including all exempt supervisors, managers and executive staff, affecting about 40 to 50 people.

Quigg said the latest layoffs are likely the last batch in the hospital’s re-organization efforts.

“The board looks at finances as time goes on and keeps a close eye on everything,” Quigg said. “The plan is to not have any large scale changes. If we do have to make changes, they would be precise but on individual areas.”

The first round of layoffs affected specific programs. For instance, the hospital closed its out-patient diabetes education program. The latest round may be less noticeable to the community, Quigg said.

“Our goal is to support our community so we try to do these kinds of changes with the least possible potential effects on our customers,” Quigg said.

The hospital’s financial bind is mostly because of a decrease in the hospital’s reimbursement from insurance companies, coupled with a rise in uncompensated charity care and people who simply don’t pay their bills. The county has had double digit unemployment since 2008 and has the highest unemployment rate in the state at 13 percent. Many of the good, family-wage jobs with insurance plans have disappeared with mill closures and layoffs across the community.

“Our board of directors has approved a limited but strategic workforce reduction, reorganization in some departments, and additional streamlining of services,” said board chairwoman Sharon Schermer in a press release.