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October 01. 2013 8:42PM

18 lose jobs at St. Joseph Hospital in Nashua

NASHUA — One of the city’s hospitals eliminated 54 positions this week, a cutback necessary because fewer patients are spending the night at the 208-bed hospital.

Although St. Joseph Hospital eliminated 54 positions on Monday, a hospital spokesman said only 18 of those roles were filled, while the remaining 36 positions were vacant.

“What this really comes down to is us doing a better job of keeping people out of the hospital, which is a good thing,” said Melissa Sears, vice president of strategy and business development for St. Joseph Hospital. “Because we have fewer people staying overnight with us, adjustments to staffing levels were necessary to match the volume of people we are seeing.”

The positions that were cut include both full-time and part-time jobs filled by registered nurses, licensed nursing assistants and back office business employees.

“We are a pretty close group of employees here at St. Joe’s. It is always difficult to say goodbye to people that are part of the family,” Sears said. “This is not easy for anyone. There were a lot of tears and tissues, and really no easy way to do it, but I think we did it as compassionately as possible.”

Sears said company employees were notified in advance that staff adjustments would be taking place. Monday was the last day for the majority of the 18 workers being let go, Sears said.

On Monday, all of the employees being laid off were offered services such as job counseling, resume writing tips and other resources to help them seek other employment.

“We don’t anticipate any additional cutbacks at this time,” Spears said following Monday’s layoffs. “As a health-care organization, it is important to manage our resources effectively and make sure that staffing is appropriate to care for the patients, and more importantly, to keep people out of the hospital.”

One of the hospital’s goals, she said, is to keep patients at home or participating in an out-patient setting, which is often less expensive. This shift in how patients are cared for has become a national trend, Sears said.

Recently, St. Joseph Hospital added five care coordinator positions to help enforce this new shift and keep patients healthier in the long-term, she said, adding care coordinators are beneficial in helping patients maintain their health.

For example, a care coordinator may work with a diabetic patient to ensure they are receiving necessary eye exams, blood sugar checks and more. These services help keep the patients healthy, therefore reducing the amount of stays in the hospital, Sears said.

khoughton@newstote.com


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