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Summa lays off 25 more this week

By Cheryl Powell
Beacon Journal medical writer

Summa Health System laid off 25 managers this week in the latest round of workforce reductions at Summit County’s largest employer.

Summa spokesman Mike Bernstein said the health system notified the affected managers Wednesday and Thursday that their positions were being eliminated as part of ongoing cost-cutting measures. Another 14 management positions are being left unfilled.

The health system expects to save several million dollars from the management cuts at Akron City, St. Thomas, Wadsworth-Rittman and Barberton hospitals and SummaCare.

Summa has about 11,000 employees if partially and affiliated ventures are included.

“The decision to reduce staff is something we take very seriously and we would rather not have to do,” Bernstein said.

However, he added, health-care reform “continues to place extreme downward pressure on our revenues,” making productivity improvement a key strategy for Summa’s financial health going forward.

This week’s staff reductions mark the third round of layoffs at Summa this year.

In September, the health system laid off 58 workers and reduced the hours of another 46 employees as part of an ongoing effort to reduce expenses. In addition, 132 open positions are being left unfilled. The moves saved Summa an estimated $8.2 million.

The health system also laid off 54 employees in January to save nearly $4.5 million. “There are no additional plans for widespread layoffs at this time,” Bernstein said.

The staffing cutbacks are part of Summa’s ongoing, 10-year performance improvement plan, which was launched in 2011 to reduce the health system’s expenses by about $966 million over the next decade.

The initiative started after an analysis showed impending changes from federal health-care reform — commonly called Obamacare — could cost Summa from $200 million to $950 million in revenue over 10 years.

Summa also recently finalized a $250 million deal giving minority ownership of the health system to HealthSpan Partners, an auxiliary of Cincinnati-based Catholic Health Partners.

Bernstein said the layoffs were not a result of the deal.

Other health systems throughout the region are making budget cuts as they anticipate lower payments from Medicare and Medicaid and prepare for an expected shift toward new payment strategies that reward hospitals financially for keeping people healthy rather than hospitalized.

The Cleveland Clinic told employees this fall that staff cuts could be part of the Northeast Ohio health-care giant’s plans to reduce costs by $330 million in 2014.

Akron General Health System — Summit County’s second-largest employer — also laid off 132 employees in February and about 30 workers in September.


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