August 30, 2007

Small Layoff Planned at E. San Jose Hospital

By Barbara Feder Ostrov, San Jose Mercury News, Calif.

Aug. 30--Regional Medical Center of San Jose will lay off a small number of workers as the East San Jose hospital goes through "growing pains," CEO Bill Gilbert told employees and trustees in an e-mail earlier this week.

The number of patients at the hospital has been lower than expected, leading to the staff cuts, Regional spokeswoman Victoria Emmons said Wednesday.

Regional, once owned by the Alexian Brothers religious order and operated as a charity hospital, is now run by for-profit health care conglomerate HCA.

The layoffs will involve between 20 and 30 employees among a staff of more than 1,300, Emmons said, and will not include registered nurses.

But the layoff notice could indicate that Regional faces significant challenges as it shifts away from its traditional mission of basic charity care and toward a strategy of offering specialized treatment including trauma, oncology, cardiac care and orthopedics.

"We're a facility in real transition mode, going from where we used to be to where we want to be," Emmons said.

The hospital is in the midst of a large expansion, involving a new patient wing, medical offices and helipad serving its trauma center. It has drawn criticism from some community activists who say the hospital has abandoned caring for the largely low-income population surrounding it.

HCA also has been criticized in recent years for closing downtown San Jose Medical Center and for a decision to stop accepting Medi-Cal inpatients who aren't enrolled in managed care programs at its remaining San Jose hospitals, Regional and Good Samaritan.

Regional's CEO has said the changes are necessary to keep the hospital afloat in a competitive market.

Contact Barbara Feder Ostrov at [email protected] or (408) 920-5064.


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