- After warning for several weeks that layoffs were imminent, the Connecticut hospital has announced that it is eliminating 80 full-time equivalent employees—affecting about 100 part-time and full-time employees. The hospital did not elaborate on how many of those people will be laid off or have their hours reduced, compared to the number of open positions that will not be filled.
- The hospital also said it would be closing, reducing or eliminating some services, and that the cuts are a result of less revenue and less government reimbursement. The decision was made after a deal fell through to sell the struggling health system to Dallas-based Tenet Healthcare Corp.
- The rest of the hospital's cost-cutting plan involves eliminating and postponing all non-patient care initiatives; changing the way the hospital operates, including potential outsourcing and collaborative opportunities; closing services such as community blood draw stations; and consolidating some services and physician practices, and making cutbacks in the location and hours of service.
The Tenet deal may not be totally DOA yet. The point-man in Tenet's attempt to acquire five Connecticut hospitals quietly met with Senate leaders last week, and the state governor is still attempting to woo him. In December, the for-profit company withdrew its application to purchase five hospitals in Connecticut after the state Office of Health Care Access proposed onerous conditions on Tenet's plans to convert non-profit Waterbury Hospital into a for-profit institution.
This is early, early days, obviously, but it's interesting to see that Tenet is still at least willing to discuss an entry into the Connecticut market—their original decision to back down was not only a big shift in strategy, but also a pretty devastating blow to Waterbury. Still, the state will have to be a lot more willing to compromise than they were previously to get Tenet back in the door. At the time, OHCA set 47 conditions affecting operations and the office of the attorney general set 21 conditions impacting finances, and Tenet was pretty clear that this was untenable.
Waterbury is likely crossing its fingers. As hospital CEO and President Darlene Stromstad says, many community hospitals across the country are struggling as a result of state and federal reimbursement cutbacks, impacts from healthcare reform and changes in the healthcare marketplace, including the shift to outpatient care.
"These dynamics are especially difficult for hospitals like Waterbury Hospital which serve as a safety net hospital, caring for the most vulnerable patients and community members," Stromstad said.