Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center said today it will lay off 140 or fewer employees, using a combination of delayed pay raises, a temporary reduction in benefits, and donations from department heads to avoid far wider job losses.
Paul Levy, the hospital's chief executive, announced the decision in an e-mail message to staff Monday that he posted today on his blog, Running a Hospital. The move follows weeks of town meeting-style forums and online discussions seeking ways to preserve many of the 600 jobs initially endangered by a $20 million budget shortfall. Like other hospitals in Boston and across the country, Beth Israel Deaconess is seeing fewer patients and lower payments from government programs.
Last week, Levy had said in a memo to staff that there would be no more than 150 layoffs. The steps to save money affect the accrual of paid time off, retirement fund matching, and raises. An early retirement plan will be offered to employees 62 and older who have at least three years of service. Donations will help, too, Levy said. The $350,000 in funds pledged by 13 department chiefs last weekhas already saved about 10 jobs. He and his wife vowed to personally match $1 for every gift of $10 through April 10.
"Given these measures, I hope that the new layoff figure of 140 people will go down over the next couple of weeks. I’d like to see it drop considerably, but we’ll just have to see," he wrote. "We will wait until the last possible moment to issue notices of termination so that we can evaluate the effect of the early retirement and philanthropic initiatives."
People earning the least -- housekeepers, patient transporters, and food service workers, for example -- will be exempt from salary cuts and will receive their scheduled 3 percent raises this year. Levy said he anticipates two years without pay increases for other staffers.
"I will do what I can to protect the lowest wage earners among us," he wrote. "I will tend to ask proportionally greater sacrifices from those higher up in the income stream than those below."
Layoffs will be determined by employee performance, patient volume, and reorganization within the hospital.
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|White Coat Notes covers the latest from the health care industry, hospitals, doctors offices, labs, insurers, and the corridors of government. Chelsea Conaboy previously covered health care for The Philadelphia Inquirer. Write her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter: @cconaboy.|
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