California hospital imposes overtime restrictions, hiring freeze to shore up finances

Ventura (Calif.) County Medical Center implemented a partial hiring freeze, imposed overtime restrictions and renegotiated staff contracts to help offset a projected deficit of at least $8.3 million, reports the VC Star.

Medical center officials attributed the shortfall to lower-than-anticipated patient volumes, a delayed opening of a $305 million, 122-bed tower at the main hospital and missed revenue projections as a result of lower reimbursements from California's Medicaid program. 

In December, hospital leaders froze the hiring process for employees who are not directly involved with patient care and imposed a stricter policy on overtime requests, which requires employees to receive two levels of approval. Additionally, they renegotiated contracts, realigned staffing levels to fit with the lower number of patient admissions and hired an international consultant to analyze billings.

Payroll costs have decreased about $300,000 to $400,000 in each two-week period as a result of the overtime restrictions and renegotiated contracts, according to the report.

"We're not sitting around waiting for the year to end," said VCMC CEO Kim Milstein, according to the VC Star. "This is going to level out."

Ms. Milstein notes that no medical units have been closed and no regular employees have been laid off.

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