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VOL. 128 | NO. 170 | Friday, August 30, 2013

Baptist Restructuring Includes 61 Layoffs

By Jennifer Johnson Backer

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Baptist Memorial Health Care Corp. this week laid off 61 employees in a system-wide restructuring plan.

(BMHCC)

The eliminated positions ranged from pharmacists to registered nurses, said Ayoka Pond, director of public relations and internal communications at Baptist Memorial.

Earlier this month, Baptist Memorial also laid off 23 managers from its 14-hospital system.

“In many cases, it’s really a transition from one type of position to another,” Pond explained. “Really, as a net total, we are adding more positions than we are eliminating.”

The 61 employees who lost their jobs worked at six Baptist Memorial locations, including Baptist Memorial Hospital for Women, Baptist Memorial Hospital-Memphis, Baptist Rehabilitation Hospital-Germantown and Baptist Trinity Homecare and Hospice in the Memphis area.

Pond said the laid off employees are encouraged to re-apply for the roughly 500 open positions currently available system-wide. Many of the new positions were created to support the hospital’s plan to roll out electronic health records, an initiative Baptist Memorial officials have dubbed OneCare, Pond said.

“That’s something that is not only a need for our patients, but it is also a federal requirement,” she explained.

Electronic health records are supposed to take full effect by 2015 under the Affordable Care Act – but the rollout is far from complete in many parts of the nation. Doctors and hospitals have received more than $6 billion in government funding to make the change, Reuters reported, citing the Health Information Management Systems Society, a nonprofit organization promoting information technology.

Baptist officials said staffing changes were also driven by health care reform, sequestration, insurance exchanges, and declining government reimbursements.

While these programs are designed to lower the cost of care, increase access and improve quality of care, local health care providers must also change in order to be successful in this new era of health care, Baptist officials said in a statement.

“Health care is going through unprecedented change, and we’ll all have to do more with less,” said Jason Little, Baptist Memorial’s executive vice president and chief operating officer. “Therefore, it’s important for us to spend wisely while continuing to offer high-quality care.”

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