Further Staffing Adjustments Announced

03/03/2010

The staff at Eastern Maine Medical Center is committed to caring for our patients, their families, the community, and one another. During these challenging financial times, it’s no secret that EMMC has been working to find ways to reduce costs and, like many organizations, we are continuing to make adjustments in response to these evolving realities.

Our new reality in healthcare is forcing change in the model for patient care. EMMC must continue to find more appropriate, affordable ways for patients to receive care and to prevent the need for hospitalization whenever possible. In EMMC’s primary care practices, for example, we have expanded hours and added care management for patients with chronic diseases, resulting in reduced need for Emergency Department visits and admissions. We have also reduced the length of stay for inpatients as a result of several other successful initiatives. Hospitals will continue to experience pressure to decrease costs and EMMC must respond.

After years of operating at capacity most of the time, we have been downstaffing units routinely for the past 13 months. It’s time to adjust our staffing to reflect a lower daily patient census. We know that some of the drop in patient census may be due to the economy, but more likely it is a result of the work we have been doing to provide care in less acute settings and to improve the flow of patients who are hospitalized.

Early Retirement Update
In January, we shared our plan to reduce staff at EMMC by about 100 positions. We made an early retirement offer to employees with at least 15 years of service and age 55 or above. While eligible employees still have time to accept or reject the offer, indications to date are that we’re likely to reach about half our goal through employees accepting the early retirement offer. Some normal turnover has also occurred which helps us reach our goal through voluntary means.

Increasing Urgency Prompts Immediate Position Eliminations
As we looked at the January financials, it became clear that urgent adjustments were necessary to address worsening financial performance. We simply cannot continue to carry the costs associated with excess staffing in this environment of declining reimbursement and revenues. So, we are moving forward to identify the additional positions we need to eliminate in order to reach our goal of about 100 positions.

A group of employees in both clinical and non-clinical areas were notified today that their positions are being eliminated. Affected employees will be given an opportunity to apply for approved posted vacant positions where possible. Employees without alternative positions will be offered a severance package. As an organization, we will do all we can to support these individuals through their transition from EMMC. 

These adjustments in staffing will not change the number of patients assigned to each nurse, but rather will respond to the fact that there are fewer patients in beds. Throughout these changes, we will continue our role as a leader in quality, care, service, and safety.

March Memo from Deborah Carey Johnson, RN, president and CEO to employees regarding further staffing adjustments 

January's Memo to staff about EMMC adjusts staff to current climate