I once had a boss who said that having to lay off employees was a failure of management. I agreed with that sentiment and have always gone to great lengths to avoid separating employees from the organization. So if that's the case, one might ask then why the recent separations at WMHS? I guess the short answer is that health care is changing and doing so very rapidly.
Recognizing that many changes were on the horizon, last year we began not filling vacant positions that we felt could be held open. And if a position needed to be filled, it had to be approved by me. When it was all said and done, we eliminated 55 positions through attrition and turnover without affecting people. We also have added many positions to better address the changes that shift inpatient care to care in a variety of outpatient settings. Some of these new positions were filled by our employees who wanted to be part of the changes coming in health care, creating vacant positions that could be eliminated.
After last week's actions, it is projected that approximately 20 of our 2200 employees may not have a comparable position available at WMHS because of their specialization. If the number was one, that would still be too many individuals without a job. Our approach with these individuals has been to be as fair as possible with a separation package that provides them an income and health benefits for the coming months. As we go forward, our goal is to minimize any similar actions and not impact people in the future. Based on what is on the horizon with changes to Medicare and Medicaid, as well as with private payors, if that goal can be accomplished, then I am sure we will be well ahead of the game.
In closing, I don't see last week's actions as a failure of management. Payment reform is well underway in a dramatic fashion in Maryland and on a national level. And no matter who is elected President, there will continue to be changes to a Medicare program that has become financially unsustainable.