West Penn to cut 352 jobs

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About 400 West Penn Allegheny Health System employees will lose their jobs in coming weeks, 352 of them from West Penn Hospital, health system officials said Friday.

Employees were notified earlier this week whether they would be retained going into 2011, and West Penn officials notified the state of the cuts at the Bloomfield facility as required by the federal Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act.

The job losses, part of the strapped system's ongoing efforts to consolidate services, cut across all employment classifications except for physicians, said spokeswoman Kelly Sorice. They include nurses, back office support, administrative services, X-ray technicians and others.

In June, WPAHS officials had estimated that up to 1,500 of the system's 13,000 workers could lose their jobs. That number was reduced to 400 as 220 employees resigned, 65 West Penn staff members moved to Allegheny General Hospital as part of services transferred to the North Side facility, and 210 others took other positions within the West Penn health system.

In a news release, officials said the health system "does not anticipate any additional jobs will be impacted as a result of its plans for West Penn Hospital."

One key resignation was that of Dawn Gideon, executive vice president and chief of hospital operations for WPAHS, whose last day of work was Friday. Ms. Sorice said Ms. Gideon's departure was a mutual decision between her and system president and CEO Christopher Olivia.

"She was recruited to work through the strategic plan, and that is now completed. So they both felt it was time for her to move on." Ms. Sorice didn't know Ms. Gideon's immediate plans other than to spend time with her husband at their home in South Carolina. Ms. Sorice said Dr. Olivia "will be making a decision on her replacement soon."

The area's second largest health system also announced what it described as its "final plans" for West Penn Hospital.

The Bloomfield facility will continue to offer inpatient care for its Women's and Infants Center, including obstetrics and gynecology, and for its burn unit and rehabilitation services. The West Penn School of Nursing and School of Respiratory Therapy will also remain on campus.

One change from earlier plans is that bariatric surgery services will move from West Penn to Allegheny General Hospital, a decision made after officials realized they'd have space at AGH to accommodate the program.

Despite the shift of that program in addition to plans to close the emergency room Dec. 31 and to move several other services to AGH, the 1.2 million-square-foot Bloomfield campus "is going to be relatively busy with outpatient services," Ms. Sorice said.

Inpatient services that will be available at West Penn include obstetrics, gynecology, gynecologic oncology and neonatal intensive care, as well as inpatient burn patient care and inpatient rehabilitation.

A range of outpatient surgeries will be offered, as well as outpatient services including radiology, radiation oncology, a sleep clinic, a lupus center, the Joslin Center for Diabetes and Jones Institute for Reproductive Medicine.

In September, Dr. Olivia cautioned that the consolidation would result in one-time costs that would impact the health system's finances, and that evidence of a turnaround could be two years away.

Steve Twedt: 412-263-1963.


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