UIHC layoffs start today

BY SCOTT RAYNOR | JUNE 17, 2009 7:20 AM

Today, some UI Hospitals and Clinics employees will learn whether their jobs have been cut in an effort to relieve the institution’s strained budget, UI officials said Tuesday.

Throughout the week, the affected employees will hold meetings with their managers and human-resources representatives, in which they will be informed of their terminations, UIHC spokesman Tom Moore said.

To reduce the overall effect of the layoffs, officials will offer to retrain select employees during their notice period — the time between their notification of termination and the end of their employment — to work in other areas of UIHC.

“If there are people we can retrain and put in another position, we’ll do it,” said Jean Robillard, the UI vice president for Medical Affairs.

At last week’s meeting with the state Board of Regents, officials decided the hospital needs to shave $45 million from its $860 million budget by the next fiscal year, creating a 1 percent profit margin.

UIHC officials announced last week they would cut 200 jobs, in addition to the 154 positions that have already been eliminated this year. Positions will be eliminated through layoffs, retirement, and attrition — positions not filled after being vacated by employees.

UIHC CEO Ken Kates notified employees about the initiation of layoffs at a staff meeting, according to a Tuesday news release.

“We know how very difficult this will be for people,” Kates said. “During the notice period, we will be actively working with employees with retraining, out-placement and other services to support them as they transition from UI Health Care to other employers.”

But the cuts are only the beginning. Robillard attributed part of the budget crunch to layoffs at other area employers, resulting in more residents with lost income and health benefits with which to pay for health care. Low reimbursement rates by state health programs also contributed to the shortfalls.

UIHC will need an additional 2 percent reduction in labor cost, though Robillard said this will likely not mean more layoffs.

Hospital officials anticipate completing details of the reduction in a meeting with the regents in July. In the meantime, Robillard said, UI Health Care will continue to seek employees’ input on potential ways to reduce expenses and will continue to undergo further reorganization.

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