M Health Fairview to lay off 900, close hospital ED

Citing a need to offset financial losses, Minneapolis-based M Health Fairview said it plans to downsize its hospital and clinic operations and reduce its workforce by 900, according to the StarTribune. 

M Health Fariview said Oct. 5 it would close 16 of its 56 clinics in Minnesota and Wisconsin; shut down its 90-bed Bethesda Rehabilitation Hospital in St. Paul, Minn.; and stop offering some services at St. Paul-based St. Joseph's Hospital.

The health system said it will close St. Joseph's emergency department by the end of the year, and specialties such as neurology and bariatrics will be moved to other facilities. The hospital said it will offer inpatient mental health services until next year.

As a result of the changes 900 employees, about 3 percent of its 34,000-person workforce, will be laid off, according to the health system. M Health Fairview said that the affected employees can  apply for other jobs  within the health system, according to the Pioneer Press.

The system said the changes were necessary because it is bracing for a $250 million operating loss this year, exacerbated by the pandemic. 

"A loss of a quarter-billion dollars is not something we can sustain,"James Hereford, M Health Fairview's CEO, told the StarTribune. 

Mr. Hereford said that COVID-19 "accelerated" the timing of the cuts, but several market and industry-related trends were already determining the direction of the changes. 

M Health Fairview's Bethesda Rehab Hospital, which was converted in March to serve high-risk COVID-19 patients, is likely to become a shelter for the homeless to be run by the county, according to the Pioneer Press. 

Through 2021, Bethesda's designated COVID-19 beds will be transferred to St. Joseph's Hospital, according to the Pioneer Press. 

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