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Carthage Area Hospital to reduce workforce by 29

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CARTHAGE — Carthage Area Hospital announced Thursday that it would eliminate 29 positions, 18 through layoffs and 11 through attrition, as part of its workforce reduction plan.

The plan, announced Wednesday, will save the 1001 West St. hospital about $144,000 per month. The figure includes salaries, fringe benefits and other benefits, according to Chief Operating Officer Richard A. Duvall.

He would not comment on types of jobs that will be lost, as not everyone had been notified Thursday, but said cuts will be systemwide. Those 29 positions represent about 6 percent of the hospital’s workforce of 480 people. Both the main hospital and Meadowbrook Terrace, a 60-bed assisted-living facility on Cole Road, town of Champion, will experience changes in staffing.

New York State Nurses Association spokesman Dan Lutz said Wednesday that the hospital gave the association a heads-up that some jobs may be in jeopardy, but no details were provided. However, he learned late Thursday that although there will be no immediate impact on registered nurses, four RNs may lose their jobs down the road.

“Any time there’s a layoff in a hospital it could impact patient care,” Mr. Lutz said.

That is because people will have to pick up extra duties and risk losing focus on something, he said.

Kathleen M. Tucker, vice president of Service Employees International Union Local 1199, said no details have been provided to her, either. The union represents about half of the hospital’s workforce, including people who work in dietary, nurse’s aide, clerical, maintenance, licensed practical nurses and technician categories.

“They haven’t given us any information yet, just that there’s going to be cuts,” she said. “We haven’t been provided with any numbers yet.”

Mr. Duvall said workforce reduction has always been an option, but hospital officials first explored other cost-saving measures.

“Position control has been reviewed monthly in our effort to move forward with our recovery plan,” he said.

Up until the staff cuts, the hospital has reduced debt and expenses, improved cash flow and streamlined operations. All of that would not have been possible without well over $10 million in support from area economic development and state agencies. Carthage Area Hospital also continues to improve its billing system to ensure payment of patient bills is steady, Mr. Duvall said.

At one point, the hospital’s debt reached $21 million. On Thursday, Mr. Duvall would not provide specific financial figures. Up-to-date numbers were not found on Guidestar, a website that provides information about Internal Revenue Service-registered nonprofits.

Mr. Duvall said that in the “continually changing environment of health care,” which includes full implementation of the federal Affordable Care Act, no organization could say job loss is the last step toward complete financial recovery.

It is possible, Mr. Duvall said, that additional changes may take place, but what and when are unknown. He said at this stage, it would be hard to guess the full extent of the federal act’s effect.

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