Care New England Begins Major Staff Reductions—Many at Women & Infants Hospital

Wednesday, April 26, 2017


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Women & Infants to be impacted the most by reductions

Care New England Health System  (CNE) is implementing additional staff restructuring as a result of ongoing financial challenges. The majority of the reductions took place at Women & Infants Hospital. 


“At Women & Infants and across Care New England, we have undertaken extensive measures to improve our financial stability while trying to minimize the impact on labor. Unfortunately, it has not been enough, as we have continued to experience reduced volumes due to changing demographics, reduced inpatient neonatal care, a declining birth rate, and a decrease in reimbursements. We must adapt to significant changes in health care delivery and payment, such as decreased population and births, and advances that change the way we provide care,” said Mark R. Marcantano, president and chief operating officer at Women & Infants Hospital. 

As first reported, CNE is in the process of being acquired by Boston-based Partners Healthcare.

Notifications of layoffs were made this week affecting a wide range of staff across the system, including clinical and non-clinical, union and non-union employees, said the hospital.

The Reductions 

The reduction follows efforts to improve the cost structure across Care New England over the past few years, including improvements to the system’s revenue cycle, growth of volume and expense management. 

“Today’s announcement marks a difficult yet necessary step in what has been a challenging period for CNE. We continue to make significant progress in our efforts to right our ship but that comes with careful and painful decisions affecting dedicated and hard-working people. It is important to note that these actions are not related to recent partnership announcements; these decisions are the result of an ongoing and exhaustive review of our operations. CNE management has determined that reducing the workforce is a fundamental necessity given our current environment and unwavering delivery of our mission to our patients through our valued and highly regarded hospitals, services and community-based programs,” said Jim Beardsworth, system director of communications.

Butler, Kent hospitals and VNA will also be impacted by the reductions. 

“We are in the midst of enormous change in healthcare in Rhode Island and across the nation. Although extremely painful, these actions are intended to improve our ability to serve our patients well into the future as we react to the continuing shift in the landscape of health care. Together, we remain focused on improved stability and renewed opportunities for clinical excellence in patient care,” said Drs. Lawrence Price, President, Butler Hospital and Michael Dacey, President, Kent Hospital, and Kathleen Peirce, vice president of operations, executive director and chief nursing officer, VNA of CNE.



Related Slideshow: 7 Implications and Unintended Consequences of a Care New England and Partners Merger

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Providence does not usually do well in mergers

Remember Providence Gas, Fleet Bank, and Narragansett Electric?

Big employers, deep community involvement, and significant charitable donors — all were consumed and in each case, the number of employees left in Rhode Island by the succeeding company is a fraction of the once independent venture.

To the victor goes the spoils.

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As if the Boston economy isn't good enough, and the Providence economy couldn't be more stagnant

The cityscape of Boston is littered with cranes. Boston Business Journal maps the construction projects utilizing cranes in Boston (see image) and the number of projects is staggering. 

In Providence, there few construction projects and not a crane to be seen. The last thing Providence needs is for another one of its largest employers to be merged into a Boston mega-organization. The likelihood is that jobs will be lost or consolidated to Boston - basic functions like purchasing, accounting, etc. will be lost. 

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Harvard beats Brown in Ivy League match-up

Harvard Medical School is ranked as the #1 research-based institution in America by U.S. News and World Report.

Partners Healthcare’s academic partner is Harvard.

In contrast, Care New England’s academic affiliation is with the Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University. Brown’s best ranking is 21st for primary care - and is ranked for research way back at #31.

One of the biggest losers in the merger could be Brown's medical school.

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Care New England is RI’s 2nd largest employer, so what will It be in 2 Years?

According to the RI Department of Labor and Training, Care New England is Rhode Island’s second largest employer.

Lifespan is the largest: 12,050

Care New England: 8,500

CVS: 7,800

Cities like "Meds and Eds" (the medical and educational business segments), but Providence and all of Rhode Island is likely to lose high paid, highly educated jobs as a result of this deal.

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Care New England Continues to Struggle

Despite hopes that closing Memorial Hospital would solve the financially beleaguered Care New England's economic woes, new financial documents unveil that CNE continues to struggle.

Additionally, the pursuer - Partners HealthCare - is also making cuts. The Boston Globe unveiled the Partners is cutting about 100 of the company’s tech workers that their jobs were being outsourced to India to cut costs.

“Many of the employees have worked for Partners for several years, or even decades, and are struggling with the company’s decision. Almost all are coders — people who scour patients’ medical records to pinpoint billable services — and earn upward of $40 an hour. Coders in India earn a fraction of that amount, making overseas coding an attractive way for hospitals to cut costs,” wrote the Boston Globe.

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Can the unions battle?

Within hours of GoLocal breaking the news of the merger, the United Nurses and Allied Professionals (UNAP) President Linda McDonald, RN, released the following statement today:

"This proposed merger has the ability to impact thousands of jobs and the quality of care in Rhode Island and should be thoroughly scrutinized. Like most Rhode Islanders, we only recently learned of this proposal but expect Care New England and Partners HealthCare to be transparent in their process and begin a conversation with our union about the effect any deal would have on our members and our patients.  

Memorial Hospital provides critical care to scores of Blackstone Valley residents every year and preserving its status as a fully-functioning community hospital will be among our top priorities as this process continues to unfold. 
The onus is now on Care New England, Partners HealthCare and Prime Healthcare Services to make the details of this proposal public and to do it quickly so that workers, patients and state regulators may begin asking the appropriate questions."

The nurses represents nearly 1,400 registered nurses, CNAs, ER techs, surgical techs, orderlies, endo techs, environmental employees and ancillary staff at Kent and Memorial hospitals.  But, will they have any impact on the decisions?

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Speaking of Lifespan - will they be forced to merge with a Boston partner?

Lifespan is having its financial challenges too. While Care New England lost $53 million last year, Lifespan's losses were $40 million. The Lifespan losses were smaller proportionately to the healthcare group's overall budget and it does not have the cash crunch that Care New England was battling.

In February, Lifespan announced it had has entered into another Boston Hospital agreement. This agreement with Dana-Farber Cancer Institute is a long term agreement with the goal of advancing cancer treatment and research. Lifespan previously entered into an agreement with New England Medical Center and that deal led to years of protracted litigation to unwind. Lifespan also ran into a legal battle with Tufts Medical Center.

Will Partners' potential arrival in the market force Lifespan to affiliate?


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