Legacy Emanuel Lays Off More than 50 Staff
Secretaries and housekeepers to lose jobs
By Helen Silvis Of The Skanner News
January 21, 2012Legacy Emanuel is letting go of about 50 support staff, according to several Legacy Employees who approached The Skanner News. Both full-time and part-time employees: some with, some without benefits, will leave.
The layoffs are part of a 400-person work-force reduction, first forecast in the story posted Jan. 18 by The Lund Report, a health business newsletter. More workforce cuts in the Legacy system are expected to be announced by Feb. 15.
“What people are asking is, ‘Do we really need 20 vice-presidents when they are laying off housekeepers?,’” said one current staff member who did not want to be identified. “The housekeepers work their a**** off.” View Legacy's management structure here.
Thirty-five unit secretaries, some of whom have been answering phones and coordinating services for years, have been laid off along with 12 housekeepers, two transport staff a sterile supplies technician and a dispatch support staff. That’s according to a list employees say they received Friday.
Diane O’Brien a unit secretary for 13 years, said she is lucky. Her husband can easily afford to support the family while she plans her next career move. “The worst part for me will be leaving all the friends I’ve made during 13 years at the hospital,” she said.
Legacy owns six area hospitals: Emanuel, Good Samaritan, Meridian Park, Mt. Hood , Salmon Creek and Randall Childrens hospital. Emanuel is the most unionized hospital and also handles more indigent care than the others.
Brian Terrett, director of public relations, said that 400 positions are being cut. At least 230 of the layoffs would come from administration, he said -- medical group, laboratory and research functions and support positions, such as IT, marketing, public relations, legal and accounting.
Terrett could not comment on the Legacy staff cuts because he had not yet been briefed on the result of the negotiations. But he said the cuts were necessary because of a $30 million cut in Medicaid reimbursements from the State of Oregon.
“This will impact nursing,” said one nurse, who asked to remain anonymous. “because they’ll be doing the jobs the secretaries used to do. They’ll be answering the phones, organizing transportation and directing family members.
There will be nobody there to do that. The nurses will have to do that.”
Three other Legacy staff spoke to The Skanner on background.
With strict hygiene standards required in all hospitals, they questioned how 12 housekeeping positions will be covered.
Some online responses to the article in the Lund Report, , also questioned the management decision to focus on lower paid hospital staff rather than cutting costs in management.
O’Brien said she understood the decision was not personal, but business. Still, she felt the decision could have been delivered personally.
“It just makes me sad that after 13 years it means nothing,” she said.
At 3 p.m. Jan 20, O’Brien says her supervisor told her the cuts were on the table, but no decision had been made.”
Gossip, however was flying around the hospital, she says. Other staff were asking her if the rumor was true: all the unit secretaries were to be laid off.
At 5 p.m., she says, a union representative handed her a list with the names of 51 people who were being laid-off. Her name was on the list, along with her staff number, hire date and benefits information. That stung.
“I got told at the nurses station in front of all my co-workers,” she said. “I felt extremely stupid.”
O’Brien says she understands the layoffs are not personal, but an official announcement would have been kinder. The hospital dropped the ball on communications, she says.
Personally, she says, she is ready to make a change. Since last year, when the EPIC computer-record system was introduced, unit secretaries have seen their role dwindle. Previously, secretaries played a critical coordination role. Now doctors and nurses do their own referrals through EPIC.
Her severance package will give here a month of pay for every year of the 13 years she has served.
“I’m in a blessed position,” she says. “We’re not looking at the hardships some people are facing. That is devastating.
“There are some single moms who have not been working there that long. They are the ones who are really hurting.”
Image is the cover of the Legacy Health Community Report 2009.