St. Elizabeth’s Hospital in Belleville is laying off about two dozen employees, according to a statement from the hospital.
“We appreciate the contributions of all of the colleagues whose positions have been eliminated. This is never an easy decision, but our board of directors and hospital administration are committed to continuing to provide the highest quality of care to our patients,” said Peg Sebastian, St. Elizabeth’s new president and CEO. “We have watched the trend toward increased utilization of outpatient services grow over the past few years and feel that a rebalancing of the workforce is necessary at this time in order to place an emphasis on these services.”
Sebastian has been on the job less than a month. Sebastian, the former president and CEO at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Highland, started on Jan. 18.
The reduction will affect 26 colleagues throughout the organization, according to a statement from the hospital, which is owned and operated by the Hospital Sisters Health System. Some of the positions eliminated include clerks, technicians and management staff. Nursing positions such as RNs and CNAs are not being eliminated, according to the hospital’s statement.
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St. Elizabeth’s is working closely with the employees affected by the reduction plan to assist in their transition to find other employment within HSHS hospitals or in the communities where they live, the statement read.
“The future of health care is rapidly changing and we must continue to adapt to these changes so we can continue the healing mission in ways that meet the needs of those in our community,” Sebastian said.
Hospital officials said the number of affected staff members represents less than 2 percent of the overall workforce and will not affect the number of positions slated to remain in Belleville once the replacement hospital opens in O’Fallon in 2017.
Construction is underway on St. Elizabeth’s replacement hospital in O’Fallon. The city of Belleville recently lost its legal battle against the hospital when a judge dismissed the city’s lawsuit seeking to stop construction of the new hospital last month. The suit sought to overturn the state’s approval of the $253 million project, which was granted in April.
In its released statement, St. Elizabeth’s said the reduction in staffing is “an effort to better align its workforce to address changes in the health care industry. Over the past few years, the health care industry has been experiencing a shift in the way people utilize health care services.”
The statement continued: “Across the nation, health care organizations have felt the pressure from payers and patients to provide more health care in the outpatient setting. Illinois is not immune to this pressure as inpatient utilization across the state has shifted from the inpatient setting to better align with outpatient services. This trend is expected to continue.”
The statement said the staffing changes will allow St. Elizabeth’s “to offer the services patients need while remaining fiscally responsible with available resources.”
The new hospital, which is expected to be completed in December 2017, has about half as many beds as the current hospital. At the time the application was filed with the state, St. Elizabeth’s had 303 beds. The new hospital is slated to have 144 beds.
Last month, St. Elizabeth’s Hospital discontinued its behavioral health services, which had 35 beds, when Touchette Regional Hospital in Centreville opened its new $10 million Behavioral Health Center, which was a joint venture with St. Elizabeth’s and Southern Illinois Healthcare Foundation. The new hospital will not include a mental health ward.
Last month, hospital spokeswoman Kelly Barbeau said all St. Elizabeth’s staff in behavioral health services were offered placement opportunities at both St. Elizabeth’s and Touchette. Of the 28 colleagues from St. Elizabeth’s behavioral health services unit, 22 chose to stay with St. Elizabeth’s Hospital in other areas and two went to Touchette, according to Barbeau.