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WOONSOCKET â€“ Thirty-one employees of Landmark Medical Center and the Rehabilitation Hospital of Rhode Island were laid off Tuesday.
Bill Fischer, spokesman for Landmark, said the affected group included members of management, hospital administrators and patient care workers. He said the cuts were necessary to keep Landmark solvent during the process of completing a merger with the hospitalâ€™s latest suitor.
â€śThroughout the mastership process, we have sought to implement efficiencies to keep Landmark Medical Center a viable operation and this decision is a continuation of that goal,â€ť said Fischer. â€śThat said, a decision like this is never easy, but it is necessary to do what we can to protect the viability of the hospital in the long term.â€ť
The cuts would not affect patient care, he said.
Christopher Callaci, general counsel for the United Nurses and Allied Professionals (UNAP), said roughly half of all the affected workers were members of the bargaining unit.
â€śWeâ€™re currently reviewing the impact to see if there is any basis for us to challenge the layoffs under the collective bargaining agreement,â€ť he said.
Callaci said the cuts were hastened by a drop in the patient census driven by actions taken earlier this year by Blue Cross/Blue Shield of R.I.
The hospital is still reeling from the effects of being briefly dropped from BC/BSRIâ€™s subscriber network during a reimbursement dispute with Landmark. Ultimately, the dispute resulted in fewer admissions, and less work for employees, Callaci said.
The struggling hospital says it needs to merge with a larger health care network to survive and has been looking for a suitable partner since filing for receivership. California-based Prime Healthcare Services, the hospitalâ€™s third court-approved suitor in less than two years, is poised to seek approval of the sale from state regulators.
Prime expects to deliver a formal application to the regulators in about two weeks, according to Edward Barrera, a spokesman for Prime.