Drop in number of patients, revenue leads to 33 layoffs at medical center

December 14, 1993|By John A. Morris | John A. Morris,Staff Writer

A drop in overnight patients led to layoffs for 33 nurses, technicians, managers and other workers at Anne Arundel Medical Center and the elimination of 73 other full-time but vacant jobs, a hospital spokeswoman said.

The layoffs, announced Friday, follow a $6.4 million dip in hospital revenue that officials have attributed to reforms aimed at controlling medical costs.

Last week's moves should keep the hospital, which has begun an ambitious expansion program on Jennifer Road, on solid fiscal ground, said Fran Counihan, vice president of public relations and marketing.

"We regret this is the time of year it happened," Ms. Counihan said, referring to the holidays. "This isn't the time of year we would have picked."

Administrators at the medical center had anticipated treating about 197 patients a day during the fiscal year that began July 1.

But the average has been well below that, falling to 158 through October, Ms. Counihan said.

In addition, because of reforms driven by the insurance industry, more and more patients are being treated at home as outpatients and hospital stays are shorter.

Generally, patients are in and out of the hospital within four days.

With 1,780 full- and part-time employees, "we had more employees than we needed to take care of the patients we had," Ms. Counihan said.

Last month, department heads were asked to develop a plan to reduce the hospital's $110 million budget by 7 percent.

After cutting supplies and services by $3 million, administrators began looking at the payroll, which accounts for about two-thirds of the hospital's operating costs.

In addition to the workers who were let go, 11 employees had their hours cut.

Only four of the employees laid off were floor nurses who supervised patients, Ms. Counihan said. The rest were orderlies, janitors, clerks, dietary workers, and employees with the finance and information services departments.

The layoffs are the first at the hospital that anyone can remember, Ms. Counihan said, although Pathways, a drug- and alcohol-abuse rehabilitation center associated with the hospital, laid off employees in February.

The laid-off employees received severance pay that varied depending on their jobs and their tenure with the hospital.

One employee said the severance packages included at least two weeks' pay and accumulated vacation and sick leave. Ms. Counihan would not confirm that.

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