NBC10.com - Doug Shimell
Over 200 hospital employees are out of work, and Reading Hospital is expected to eliminate even more positions. NBC10's Doug Shimell reports details.
For some it was a necessary business decision. For others however, it was the painful separation of a tight-knit family.
“It’s difficult any time people are let go for whatever reason,” said Catherine Pryzjemski, an employee at Reading Hospital. “It’s sad. It hurts. But the hospital is here to provide excellent patient care and that has to be our focus.”
On Tuesday, Reading Hospital laid off 210 workers while eliminating another 181 positions through attrition. Hospital officials say the layoffs are a result of a drop in surgeries, costs associated with the affordable health act and reduced Medicare and Medicaid payments.
“These reductions-in-force, while painful to those affected and difficult for all of us who have worked side-by-side with these colleagues, are nonetheless necessary so that we might strategically reallocate resources into areas of greater growth and importance for the community,” said Clint Matthews, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Reading Health System.
Therese Sucher, the hospital’s chief operating officer, says the reductions were determined by job classification and seniority, with the least senior employees impacted. Sucher also says the laid off workers will receive separation packages based on years of service and employment status. Finally, she insists the reductions won’t impact the overall quality of the hospital.
“These reductions will not affect patient services or patient care,” she said. “Our patients and the community will see no change in the high quality healthcare they have come to expect.”
Despite the reasoning of the executives, some workers told NBC10’s Doug Shimell that they felt blindsided, receiving little notice of the layoffs before Tuesday. With this in mind, the National Union of Hospital Workers dispatched a crisis team to help them as soon as they left work.
“In a situation where an employer says we’ve got to cut, the employer gets to make the decision,” said Paul Grubb of the National Union of Hospital Workers. “There are no rules about how it gets done. If they don’t have a collective bargaining agreement and they’re not in a union or have a union contract, then essentially they have no rights.”
“I think it’s horrible,” said Donna Waszkiewicz of Leesport. “It’s sad that they’re doing this to these healthcare workers. You can’t do it without them.”