Hospital Facing Staff Cuts – QNS.com

Hospital Facing Staff Cuts

Less than two months after Caritas Health Care Inc., officially took ownership of St. John’s Queens Hospital, The Queens Courier has learned that major staffing cuts are imminent as part of the hospital’s reorganization plan.
As many as 32 full-time employee nursing positions, which could affect as many as 50 nurses, technicians and patient care assistants, are likely to be terminated or displaced within the next month, according to multiple sources at the hospital.
“They are going to staff the whole hospital to the bare minimum,” said one nurse who has been with the hospital for more than 10 years. “If someone calls in sick there will be no one.”
Hospital staff first learned about potential cuts at a meeting on Tuesday, February 20, where a number of representatives from different areas of the hospital including Annette Hastings, Vice President of St. John’s Queens Hospital, were present. During the meeting, many hospital employees voiced concern and questions regarding potential cuts, and Hastings repeatedly told employees that she could not answer a number of specific questions about the cuts, according to a source present at the meeting.
Dominic Gio, who is the President of Caritas, which is now running St. John’s Queens Hospital, was not present at the meeting, and only provided the following statement through a spokesperson from St. John’s.
“We are in the process of rightsizing the organization,” Gio said through the spokesperson, who also said she could not answer any specific questions about the potential cuts.
St. John’s Queens Hospital, which is a 227-bed, voluntary community teaching hospital serving Western Queens and Mary Immaculate Hospital, which is 221-bed voluntary community teaching hospital with a 115-bed skilled nursing facility, were members of the Saint Vincent Catholic Medical Center (SVCMC) until Wyckoff Heights Medical Center purchased the two out of bankruptcy in 2006.
After the official transfer of control to Caritas Health Care, Inc., which also runs Wyckoff Heights Medical Center, took place on January 1, the three hospitals formed the Brooklyn Queens Health Care (BQHC) system, with the Caritas logo on the hospitals, but the individual hospitals retaining their own names.
However, representatives from Caritas began working on a turnaround plan for the two hospitals in the summer of 2006 and began implementing that plan shortly thereafter.
Immediately after the takeover took place, Harold E. McDonald, Executive Vice President at Wyckoff and Chief Administrative Officer of Caritas in charge of the turnaround, expressed his gratitude for the vote of confidence from physicians at both facilities, and the dedication and loyalty of the employees at the hospitals.
“Everyone is committed to making this plan work,” he said in January.
Already, some staff and nurses have already received letters from management alerting them to “economic challenges” Caritas is facing. The letter told them to meet with representatives from Human Resources at the end of the month to decide whether their seniority and skills will permit them to take a different position within the hospital and bump out another employee or whether their services are no longer needed.
“Regrettably, the need to meet budgetary requirements causes us to take this action,” read part of the letter.
One nurse who received her letter on Tuesday, February 27, telling her she would be displaced said the cuts were surprising.
“Since Wyckoff took us over, we have been hearing that everything is fine, and there won’t be any layoffs.”
In addition to the expected staff downsizing, speculation about the hospital’s financial standing has escalated after a number of doctors at the hospital did not get paid during the last pay period, according to sources. The speculation caused a mad rush to the Chase Bank branch across the street from the hospital during the last payday, so much so that the bank did not have enough funds available to cash all the checks.
“It was unbelievable; I have never seen anything like it,” said a St. John’s nurse. “We thought we were in bad shape when SVCMC filed for bankruptcy, this was even worse.”
At the meeting on Tuesday, February 20, employees posed questions about the possibility of St. John’s closing, but officials reiterated that the hospital was not going to close, according to a source at the meeting.

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