Franciscan blames cuts on inpatient volume drop

2014-02-20T16:45:00Z 2014-02-20T17:54:14Z Franciscan blames cuts on inpatient volume dropVanessa Renderman vanessa.renderman@nwi.com, (219) 933-3244 nwitimes.com

A drop in inpatient volumes is to blame for layoffs and position eliminations at multiple Franciscan Alliance locations in Northwest Indiana.

"We did eliminate some positions," said Gene Diamond, Franciscan Alliance Northern Indiana Region CEO. "We're going to be doing this on a continuing basis, because we have to adjust to volumes."

He declined to give specific numbers, because employees are still being notified.

Franciscan Alliance cut 275 employees at its 11 hospitals and health care facilities in Indiana in October.

The Mishawaka-based company runs Franciscan St. Margaret Health hospitals in Dyer and Hammond, Franciscan St. Anthony Health hospitals in Crown Point and Michigan City and Franciscan Healthcare in Munster, among other facilities.

In September, Franciscan laid off 125 people at Franciscan St. James hospitals in Chicago Heights and Olympia Fields as well as several outpatient centers.

Health care executives anticipated a shift from inpatient services to outpatient services because of national efforts to cut back on hospitalization but did not expect it would arrive so soon and so abruptly, Diamond said.

"This took us all by surprise," he said. 

That shift means job opportunities in other areas. 

"Two days ago, I signed 45 requisitions to hire people," he said. "In some areas, we're expanding, and some areas are contracting."

Many positions already are vacant, he said.

"We get to a certain point, and we say to ourselves, 'This position has been vacant for X months, and the volume never returned,'" he said.

That's when a decision is made whether to eliminate those vacancies. 

When an employee leaves in a volume-related position, such as a nurse or physicians office staff member, supervisors naturally request a replacement, Diamond said.

"We'll say 'no' because the volumes are not sufficient to fill," he said. 

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