YAKIMA -- Faced with cuts in state reimbursements for Medicaid, the Yakima Valley Farm Workers Clinic has eliminated 50 positions, most of them in the Yakima Valley.
The cuts represent a 3.8 percent reduction in staff for the Farm Workers Clinic, which has offices and medical clinics in Washington and Oregon and employs 1,315 people, said spokesman Glenn Cassidy.
"It's the same thing everyone else is facing in the health industry," he said. "And looking at the state budget and reimbursements for Medicaid, it doesn't look like things are going to get any better, so we're going to have to make some readjustments in staff."
Among those losing their jobs beginning two weeks ago were nurses and administrative personnel. Staff in outreach programs for substance abuse and maternity support also had to be let go, said Executive Director Carlos Olivares.
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"This is a problem around the state," Olivares said. "We're not immune to it."
Grappling with similar budget problems, Yakima Valley Memorial Hospital eliminated 26 jobs between last October and January.
In Yakima, Farm Workers clinics on Nob Hill Boulevard and Lincoln Avenue lost a combined 23 employees while Casa de Esperanza, an alcohol and drug treatment center on Fourth Street in Yakima, was closed.
Eleven positions were eliminated from clinics in Toppenish, Wapato, Grandview and Prosser. Other clinics to lose workers were Ellensburg, Pasco, Walla Walla, Woodburn, Ore., and Salem.
Olivares said the state Basic Health Plan, which provides subsidized care for the working poor, has suffered significant cuts.
A year ago, his clinics served around 15,000 patients on the state-run plan. Today, that number is about 3,500.
Statewide, the number of people on the plan has dropped from about 100,000 to around 32,000, he said.
"That's going to have a huge impact not just in our area, but across the whole medical community," he said.
Olivares is more optimistic about retaining a certain level of federal funding.
"On the base funding, I don't think that we are going to experience any losses," he said.
It is among the Yakima Valley's larger layoffs this month. This past week, the Whirlpool call center in downtown Yakima closed, taking with it 160 jobs. In announcing the closure, the company cited a consolidation of its U.S. call centers due to decreasing call volume.