California hospital to lay off 15; interim CEO proposes eliminating own job

Northern Inyo Healthcare District, which operates a 25-bed critical access hospital in Bishop, Calif., anticipates eliminating about 15 positions, or less than 4 percent of its 460-member workforce, by April 21, a spokesperson confirmed to Becker's

The layoffs include nonclinical roles within support and administration, according to a news release. No further details were provided about specific positions affected. 

The hospital said severance, and in a few cases, job relocation at a lower pay rate within the district, will be offered to affected workers. 

"Our focus steadfastly remains on delivering quality care for the community," Interim CEO Lionel "Chad" Chadwick, PhD, said in the release. "To that extent, no positions in direct patient care are being reduced. However, it should be noted the district has made great efforts to reduce the number of contracted traveling nurses within our operations, providing substantial cost savings."

The district cited financial strain from the effects of the pandemic, high inflation, low Medicaid and Medicare reimbursement, and labor shortages as contributing factors. 

Amid these challenges, the district must continue examining all opportunities to maintain a sustainable healthcare facility, Dr. Chadwick said. He noted that since December, the district froze several positions as those became vacant due to retirements, resignations or interdepartmental relocations. The district — which also includes a 24-hour emergency department, a primary care rural health clinic, a diagnostic imaging center, a rehabilitation services center, and various clinics — saved $1.5 million with the frozen positions. Dr. Chadwick estimates the district will save another $1.5 million with the 15 layoffs.

He said additional efforts are still necessary.

"Our Turnaround Group has taken a deep dive into our operations, hoping to find ways to balance our finances and improve our efficiencies," said Dr. Chadwick. "We've acted on many opportunities, large and small, in hopes of not having to undergo this workforce reduction. Unfortunately, the community needs to understand we are facing more difficult decisions, which may affect service lines, days of operation, hours of operations, and more. Everything is on the table. As I've told the team, there are no sacred cows."

Dr. Chadwick said he has proposed elevating CFO Stephen DelRossi to interim CEO for at least six months. The district board is negotiating with Mr. DelRossi, and if an agreement is reached, the move would either eliminate Dr. Chadwick's role or reduce his role to an on-call consultant, the district said. Allison Partridge, MSN, RN, the district's chief nursing officer, currently holds dual roles, also serving as interim COO. An update on negotiations could come as soon as April 19.

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