St. Charles lays off 2 leaders amid financial, staffing strain

Bend, Ore.-based St. Charles Health System has eliminated two executive leadership positions as the organization works to recover financially, according to a statement shared with Becker's.    

The statement, shared July 16, said the positions of Jeff Absalon, MD, executive vice president and chief physician executive, and Rod Marchiando, senior vice president of strategy, have been cut to save costs.

St. Charles said transition plans for their responsibilities are being developed with the aim of making the reductions effective by Aug. 1.  

"I want to sincerely thank Jeff and Rod for their many contributions to St. Charles throughout their tenure," Steve Gordon, MD, interim president and CEO of St. Charles, said in the health system's statement. "They are talented executives who have dedicated years of their lives to the betterment of the health system. They care deeply about our caregivers, patients and the communities we serve. They will be missed, and we wish them all the best on their next endeavors."

St. Charles announced the executive layoffs after Joe Sluka resigned as president and CEO amid the organization's financial struggles. Mr. Sluka, who is moving to an adviser position at the health system, announced the news July 12, and Dr. Gordon, a former St. Charles board of directors member, was selected to helm the organization on an interim basis.

Health systems across the U.S., including St. Charles, have struggled with staff shortages and financial challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition to the most recently announced layoffs, the health system also announced in May it would lay off 105 caregivers and eliminate 76 vacant positions. St. Charles said it ended April with a $21.8 million loss.

Amid the recent layoff announcements and financial struggles, St. Charles is "not turning away patients and we are not rationing care. Depending on a patient's health care needs, we are boarding them in our emergency department until a bed becomes available or we are working with our community partners to place them in an appropriate facility," according to a statement shared with Becker's.  

St. Charles also said the health system activated its Hospital Incident Command System July 15 to manage significant patient flow and workforce challenges.

"Our objectives are to stabilize staffing, manage our inpatient admissions and discharges, and ensure patient and caregiver safety," the health system added.

St. Charles spokesperson Lisa Goodman told Oregon Public Broadcasting said no other across-the-board layoffs are planned, and the health system is still seeking to hire for nearly 430 positions across all locations. 

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