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Massena hospital downsizing

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MASSENA - Financial losses have prompted Massena Memorial Hospital to reduce its staff size.

The hospital is laying off two employees, one in its fiscal services division and one in its nursing division. MMH has also implemented a hiring freeze for 13 vacant full-time, part-time and per diem positions, and will reduce hours for part-time employees in several departments including ancillary and support services, spokeswoman Tina R. Corcoran said.

In total, the hospital is reducing its workforce of 429 by 13.1 full-time equivalent positions. The reductions begin immediately.

“We regret that the realignment is necessary at this time. We are consolidating where it makes fiscal sense,” MMH CEO Charles F. Fahd II said in a statement Monday. “We want to assure the community that we will maintain quality patient care with an appropriate ratio of health care providers to patients.”

The cutbacks follow two difficult months for the hospital’s finances. MMH posted a $572,645 loss for May, an increase from April’s loss of $479,662. The hospital has a year-to-date loss of $1,161,408.

“We had two serious months. We had to be fiscally responsible,” Ms. Corcoran said.

The number of ER visits in May was 1,582, down from the budgeted 1,697 and a decrease of more than 150 from last May’s total of 1,740. The inpatient discharges totaled 205, off 26.8 percent from last May’s total of 280.

Those losses, coupled with cuts in the amount Medicare and Medicaid reimburse MMH, necessitated the reductions. The hospital is continue to review ways to boost revenues and cut costs, including limiting staff overtime, Mr. Fahd said.

“If our budget variances continue, we will need to re-visit our staffing complement throughout the year,” Mr. Fahd said. “It is our fiscal responsibility to right-size due to the changes.”

At the hospital’s June meeting, Mr. Fahd and CFO Sean Curtin mentioned all options were on the table after the losses, but declined to comment specifically. Mrs. Corcoran said June’s financial information was not available yet.

“Senior staff and the directors have been looking at this for weeks,” Mrs. Corcoran said.

This is the second staff reduction in as many years. In January 2011, MMH completed a belt-tightening, which led to the elimination of 10 full-time-equivalent positions. Those cuts resulted in hours being reduced for one full-time nurse and part-time employees in the hospital’s pharmacy, lab, housekeeping, endoscopy, finance and dietary sectors, according to Jonnie J. Dorothy, senior director of human resources at MMH. No employees lost were laid off as a result of that restructuring.

Hospital officials broke ground on a $3.9 million medical office building last spring. Mrs. Corcoran said the building was necessary even in difficult times in order to attract new physicians to the hospital.

“It’s part of the strategic plan,” she said. “They’re the ones who admit patients. That’s who can help us.”

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