Hospital official details layoffs

Accurate numbers about how many people were laid off recently at Brooks Memorial Hospital and the Lake Shore Health Care Center have been hard to come by – until Thursday.

Gary Rhodes is Lake Erie Regional Health System of New York’s acting chief executive officer and provided the OBSERVER with that information, and more.

“There were about 90 positions eliminated at Lake Shore. The large numbers like that sort of thing are essentially over with. … There were about 30-35 here,” he said of Brooks. “The reason I don’t like to put out an exact number is because it really is a dynamic thing. There’s unions involved. There’s a process where some people criticized us for getting rid of positions that were (casual employees). Well, that’s the way you need to do it; you have to start with those areas first.”

There were other reasons for withholding the numbers as well, according to Rhodes.

“Our first obligation is to our patients and our employees and our physicians. If you go out there and put out a number, it doesn’t take your employees and staff long to say OK, 90 and there’s 200 of us here and you start looking around the room. We didn’t want to do that,” Rhodes explained. “I think everybody recognizes that health care is having a tough time and will be for the foreseeable future.”

Rhodes said no physicians were included in the layoff numbers and he did not believe any nurses at Brooks were affected either.

“I cannot speak to that specifically at Lake Shore. It’s really a cross section, there are different level management positions,” he added. “There is a senior-level management position here, really a cross section.”

Asked if it was overstaffing or just a drop in business, Rhodes said it was the same answer.

“You’re not staffed to match your business,” he explained.

Rhodes said there were 1,100 to 1,200 people employed between Brooks and Lake Shore. He added revenue was $37.5 million and $39.2 million in the hospitals, representing a loss of 7 to 10 percent from the year before.

“It doesn’t take long to figure out you’re not going to continue to be viable with losses like that so you have to turn it around. It isn’t like something we did because we wanted to do it,” Rhodes stated. “It was necessary and cost is only part of the issue. We’re looking at every single cost you can imagine. All contracted services, all supplies, whatever it might be.

“It’s kind of an inopportune time with reimbursements declining and costs going up. There’s some costs you have to deal with, you don’t have any other choice. It makes it very difficult and we don’t really know what the new model of care is for sure. We know there’s a lot of discussion about it but how do you know how that’s really going to turn out. I think all health care facilities, except maybe ones that are fortunate to be located in high-growth areas, are having a tough time and will.”

Rising costs, reimbursement rates not keeping up and fewer patients may not change for a while.

Rhodes said that was the reason for a productivity system to measure what is needed.

“If the volume, the number of procedures, the number of surgeries, tests, whatever it might be, increases, the manager can see that very quickly. At least as quickly as every two weeks,” Rhodes explained. “That’s really the kind of tools a manager needs to be able to manage.”

Brooks is licensed for 40-45 beds while Lake Shore is in the range of 25 beds, according to Rhodes.

Scott Butler is the LERHSNY Vice President for Marketing and Public Relations and said the falling patient numbers are not all patient choice.

“If you look at the simple statistics, … our populations are declining, people are moving out, so even if our market share percentages remain about the same we’re losing people,” he explained. “Some of our major feeder markets are up to a 6 percent decline in population size, there’s not much we can do to help with that.”

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