BANGOR, Maine — Eastern Maine Medical Center announced Wednesday that it will eliminate 100 full-time positions within the next few weeks. Administrators hope all or most of the cuts can be achieved through early retirement incentives that will be offered to longtime employees this week, but layoffs also may be considered.
According to a memo from EMMC President and CEO Deborah Carey Johnson, the need to reduce hospital staff in part reflects improved outpatient services that are driving down demand for inpatient care.
“In some ways our situation is the result of some good work we’ve done,” Johnson said in the memo to all EMMC employees. Better outpatient chronic disease management and end-of-life care, she said, has reduced hospital admissions as well as the average length of stay for those who are admitted. The resultant lower daily patient census, she said, calls for staff reductions in clinical and nonclinical departments.
But Johnson said the depressed economy also is playing a role, including a recent cut of $4.6 million in revenues from Maine’s Medicaid program, MaineCare. In addition, she said, some individuals are putting off elective procedures for financial reasons.
Hospital spokeswoman Jill McDonald said Wednesday that 109 “letters of invitation” will be delivered to specific employees who are nearing retirement age. They will be offered incentives to take early retirement, McDonald said, although she declined to specify the nature of those incentives. In addition to being near retire-ment, she said eligible employees must be working in positions that either can remain unfilled or can be filled internally, eliminating some other unnecessary position.
The goal is to reduce staffing by 3 percent, she said, or the equivalent of 100 full-time positions. If the quota cannot be met through voluntary early retirement, other measures, including involuntary layoffs, will be considered. Because the need to reduce staffing reflects long-term trends in funding and demand for inpatient serv-ices, the staff reductions should be considered permanent, McDonald said.
The hospital has undergone a number of staffing changes in recent months, including the elimination of 15 positions in September.
EMMC is a 350-bed tertiary care hospital, the largest of seven hospitals affiliated with Brewer-based Eastern Maine Healthcare Systems. It includes a number of primary and specialty medical practices and other outpatient departments, employing a total of about 3,700 people.