Facing their second straight year of deficits, North Country Hospital in Newport laid off 19 staff on Tuesday.
Reporter Robin Smith covered the cuts for the Caledonian Record this week, and joins VPR for Regional Report.
Smith says other than two doctors and four clinical staff, the cuts are being made in administrative positions at the hospital.
North Country Hospital employs about 600 staff. With the job cuts, plus other cost cutting measures, the hospital hopes to save $1.3 million and get back to what they call a “two percent operating margin.”
Smith says the reasons for the deficits are due to changes in government reimbursements, but also due to patient demand.
“Patients aren’t following through when a doctor recommends a procedure,” says Smith.
Uninsured patients or those with high out-of-pocket expenses are electing not to undergo non-essential procedures.
Some clinical positions were effected, with an occupational medicine and a psychiatric clinic closing its doors.
But Smith says economic re-vitalization throughout the Northeast Kingdom offset these job cuts. She says other industries are developing and there is more work to go around.
“In the recession, if this happened then, I think it would have been traumatic,” says Smith.
Smith says that the cuts were not necessarily a surprise to anyone who had been keeping track of NCH’s deficits.
“They were going to have to change how they were operating,” says Smith. “But you’re never happy to see it manifest in actual people losing their jobs.”