Feedback: SMC To Cut Jobs Because Of Healthcare Reform

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Story Updated: Oct 30, 2013

Healthcare reform will cost 23 people their jobs at Samaritan Medical Center.

The Watertown hospital announced a workforce restructuring plan Tuesday.

SMC said the plan will help it  prepare for changes resulting from healthcare reform.

"These changes, which focus on treating patients at the appropriate level of care, are causing a shift from inpatient hospital stays to community-based healthcare that relies on the full continuum of care, such as primary care, outpatient care and long-term care," the hospital said in a news release.

According to SMC, its inpatient admissions are down at the hospital, and there is more demand for services in the long-term care setting as a result of healthcare reform mandates.

"We're down about 200 discharges, so that means approximately 200 people less being admitted to the hospital than last year," said hospital spokesperson Krista Kittle.

Reduced numbers numbers mean reduced revenue.

In fact, officials say the projected revenue for June was off $2.2 million.

That is why the hospital is laying off 23 employees from a variety of departments, including nursing and radiology.

"A proactive approach to addressing the challenges that we're facing today as a result of healthcare reform," said Kittle.

Here's how the restructuring plan works:

- Approximately 42 staff members will be reassigned into other available jobs within the organization that are currently vacant.

- The workforce will be reduced by 23 staff members through layoffs.  Six management positions and 17 non-management positions are being eliminated.

SMC said affected employees will be notified over the next three days.

Officials say so-called "Obama Care" has actually put an emphasis on out-patient treatment.

That means fewer patients are staying and paying for care.

Samaritan CEO Tom Carman says health care reform is "forcing all hospitals to look at ways to reduce cost while still maintaining a high quality of care."

While 23 jobs being cut is bad, officials say without places like Samaritan Keep Home and Samaritan Summit Village, things could have been worse.

Another 42 more employees avoided being laid off by moving from the hospital to one of the two nursing homes in Watertown.

See SMC's news release

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Scott D said on Tuesday, Aug 6 at 6:15 PM

I am not a Obama Care supporter but I believe that it is not just health care reform that is the problem at SMC! They also have a terrible reputation in the North Country for poor service. Many people go to Syracuse or other surrounding hospitals to avoid SMC! They should take another look at their management!

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writeman57 said on Saturday, Aug 10 at 11:11 PM

I'd like to fully understand how the Affordable Health Care act is causing a loss of income at the hospital. The explanation above and the commentary on the News at 6 has been lacking any detail as to what mandates are causing the decrease in business. I would anticipate additional patients and revenue when everyone will be insured and able to pay for health care. On the other hand the focus (according to the official summary) is on 'outcome based health care' and apparently the billing process will be simplified. Is this a problem for Samaritan? Is their income model being disrupted by attempts to clean up the mess medical billing is now? I'd hope that some intrepid reporter is hard at work trying to answer these questions, especially since this has been presented locally as a detrimental effect of an otherwise hopeful policy.

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