Trios Health in Kennewick is laying off about 25 employees as part of a workforce restructuring plan to improve its troubled financial position.
The plan also involves not re-filling some open posts, changes to shift scheduling and hours worked, and other workforce cuts to help the public hospital district get back on solid footing.
The changes will mean millions in savings. Still, implementing them has been painful, said Craig Cudworth, interim CEO and chief restructuring officer.
“There is nothing easy about this kind of (action). ... It hurts. It is, however, necessary,” he told reporters during a news conference Friday.
He added that Trios “will not cut corners in providing quality patient care” in the wake of the changes.
Trios Health is the name of the Kennewick Public Hospital District’s system of care.
It includes two hospitals and a network of care centers and services, and it’s been struggling financially for several years. Last year, for example, it saw a net loss of about $17 million.
The Trios board last year voted to bring in the consulting firm Quorum Health Resources to complete a financial, operational and strategic assessment and put together an improvement plan.
The firm found that Trios’ problems weren’t due to a single factor, but to several combining in a perfect storm — from aggressive competition to a heavy debt load.
Quorum made several recommendations, including reducing the workforce by up to 115 full-time equivalents, or FTEs.
An FTE is a unit of measurement, with one FTE equaling 2,080 hours worked in a year. One FTE could equal one full-time employee or multiple part-time employees.
Trios is following the recommendation, with 95 FTEs reduced as of April 1 and another 20 FTEs expected to be cut over the next several months.
The 95 FTEs largely were cut through attrition, scheduling changes and voluntary layoffs, and mean about $4.3 million in annual savings.
The roughly 25 employees who were involuntarily laid off equal 21.8 FTEs, or 23 percent of the 95 FTE figure.
The cuts touch several departments across Trios’ hospital and medical group divisions, from ambulatory care/pre-operative services to pharmacy, administration, medical staff services and urgent care.
The remaining 20 FTEs planned for reduction “are expected to be realized over the next several months through additional attrition, hourly adjustments relative to patient volumes/need, and additional opportunities identified by employees,” Trios said in a news release.
“We will diligently watch our productivity numbers to meet our targets,” Cudworth said in the release. “We are already seeing early indications that we are on the right track.”
No patient services are being discontinued, the district said.
Trios Health has about 1,100 employees total.
Marv Kinney, president of Trios’ board, said he and his colleagues are proud of the work that’s been done to “carefully and creatively address our challenges while preserving our high standards for patient care and endeavoring to preserve as many positions and employees as possible.”
The Quorum report found that the system’s operations aren’t sustainable without changes, and “we are actively course correcting as it is our intention to continue to serve the Tri-Cities,” he said.
In addition to the workforce changes, Trios also is taking others steps recommended by Quorum, including reviving an effort to seek $150 million in refinancing through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and considering the merits of affiliating or joining forces with another health system.
Several organizations have approached Trios about possible partnerships, although nothing formal is in the works, Cudworth has said. A merger/acquisition steering committee has been established.