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Decreased outpatient surgery leads to layoffs

A decline in outpatient surgery has caused a small layoff in the registered nursing staff at Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital.

It’s a sign of the changing business practices of area doctors who are seeking new income avenues as they struggle with low insurance and Medicare reimbursements. And figures of in-hospital surgeries show the trend is continuing.

Hospital spokeswoman Brett Bentley and nurses union representative Eric Conradson confirmed Wednesday that the surgery nursing staff will lose the equivalent of 21Ú2 jobs by July 1. The layoffs at the Grass Valley hospital will occur to four people, one full-time and three part-time registered nurses, Bentley said.



“We’ve already placed one in another department and we’re working to put (the others) in other departments in our facility or in another Catholic Healthcare West Hospital nearby,” Bentley said.

She could not reveal who the affected nurses are among the 330 RNs who work there, Bentley said. Administration officials were unavailable for comment at the hospital, which employs about 825 people.




Conradson said the layoffs were agreed to by the nurses during recent labor negotiations.

“Doctors who perform outpatient procedures took their business elsewhere,” Conradson said.

“It’s a direct result of surgery volume being down because of physician-owned outpatient services,” Bentley said. “They’re doing more of them in their offices, which nationally is a trend.

“Insurance and Medicare reimbursement rates are down and doctors are doing this for their businesses,” Bentley said. “Everyone’s feeling the pinch of insurance reimbursement rates.”

The hospital is recruiting physicians to rebuild the lost outpatient surgery business, Bentley said. The hospital’s outpatient surgeries made up 75 percent of the operating room load in fiscal year 2005-2006, she said.

That number is expected to drop to 63 percent for the current 2006-2007 fiscal year and for the upcoming fiscal year of 2007-2008, Bentley said.

The hospital last cut positions in December 2004 and January 2005, when eight jobs were eliminated to make up a $1.5 million deficit.

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To contact Senior Staff Writer Dave Moller, e-mail davem@theunion.com or call 477-4237.


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