WOONSOCKET – Financially struggling Landmark Medical Center announced Thursday that “small cuts” in personnel are coming to the city hospital and the affiliated Rehabilitation Hospital of Rhode Island to bring manpower in line with patient volume.
The hospital said the cuts mean services at Atwood Therapy in Johnston would be discontinued entirely. Patients will be steered to other Landmark facilities for treatment.
In receivership since June 2008, Landmark has banked its survival on a $76 million takeover by Steward Health Care System, a for-profit company that also owns the Massachusetts-based Caritas Christi Health Care network. A Superior Court judge approved the sale in May, pending a review by state regulators that has yet to begin in earnest.
“The staff reductions we are announcing today have long been expected and were publicly discussed during the court supervised mastership process,” said Richard Charest, hospital president. “Like all hospitals we must continuously identify ways the hospital can run more efficiently while maintaining high quality patient care.”
Bill Fischer, a spokesman for Landmark, would not say how many workers would be let go. He said the cuts would affect both union and non-union personnel.
Landmark and RHRI, in North Smithfield, have a combined workforce of approximately 1,200. About half are members of the United Nurses and Allied Professionals.
Chris Callaci, the union's general counsel, said Landmark's administration has not yet informed UNAP how many of its members would be laid off.
UNAP signed a collective bargaining agreement with Steward during the court proceedings acknowledging there could be as many as 75 union positions cut prior to the completion of the acquisition. Callaci said he has no reason to believe the cuts will reach that level, however.
“When we know the actual numbers, I'll have no problem discussing them,” said Callaci. “For now we want to make sure people with seniority are properly recognized and that all their bumping rights are honored.”
Landmark said affected employees would be directed to the state Department of Employment and Training to discuss their options.
Under the Hospital Conversions Act, the Department of the Attorney General and the state Department of Health must ultimately decide whether Steward will be allowed to purchase Landmark and RHRI. Both departments have been advised of the impending job cuts, Landmark said.
The complex HCA review is expected to take the better part of a year to complete, if not longer. Asked for an update on the status of the process, Fischer said, “We are in preparation mode.”
On May 31, when Superior Court Judge Michael Silverstein authorized the sale to move forward, the judge urged regulators to begin the review as expeditiously as possible, calling the survival of a full-service hospital in northern Rhode Island “a matter of great public concern.”