Wednesday, January 08, 2014 - Valley Health System Announces Personnel Cuts
Valley Health has announced that 33 employees lost their jobs today and four others had their hours reduced in an effort to realign operating expenses to declining patient volumes. In 2013, Valley Health released 17 employees and eight others had their hours reduced in an effort to manage to patient demand. Valley Health also announced that it has eliminated 25 vacant positions effective today, and that in 2013 it had done the same with approximately 100 vacant slots.

“This is a very difficult decision we had hoped to avoid,” said Valley Health CEO Mark H. Merrill. “As the primary provider of hospital and other health services for several hundred thousand residents in our region, Valley Health is on the front line of confronting and adapting to new healthcare dynamics,” Merrill explained in a memo to employees, physicians and Trustees. “Our industry is undergoing major transformation to better meet current demands while maintaining sustainability into the future. Federal deficits, payment cuts included in the Affordable Care Act, declining volumes, the decision by the Virginia legislature not to expand Medicaid, and other factors have impacted our financial position and we must respond.”

Merrill praised his management team for limiting the human impact by eliminating mostly vacant positions. The staffing reduction includes nine management level staff. Nearly 60% of the workers who lost jobs were from Winchester Medical Center. Each of the other five hospitals in the System-- Warren Memorial, Shenandoah Memorial, Page Memorial, Hampshire Memorial and War Memorial -- lost at least one employee. Six employees on the Valley Health System corporate payroll were affected as well.

A growing number of hospitals across the country are reporting job cuts. According to recent news reports, facilities across the nation and our region including MedStar in Washington, D.C., the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN, the Cleveland Clinic in Cleveland, OH, and Denver Health, have had workforce reductions.

Other changes at the Winchester-based health system include reducing and freezing the merit awards program and ongoing cuts to travel and other expenses. “These actions are necessary as we seek to establish a new balance that brings services, staffing and overall costs in line with patient demand and reimbursement levels,” Merrill said.

“Our employees have a well-earned reputation for patient safety and quality care,” said Merrill, “and that will continue to be our driving focus today, tomorrow, and forever.”

“We are seeking a new equilibrium and we will find it. All of our facilities have been caring for patients 24 hours a day, seven days a week, for over half a century and Winchester Medical Center has been doing it for more than 100 years,” Merrill said. “People turn to us with confidence to help them regain their health. We will continue to be there for them and these actions help assure that.”