SPRINGFIELD, Ore. — The new year brings bad news to employees at McKenzie-Willamette Medical center–layoffs.
A hospital spokesperson says the layoffs are due to less funding from the government.
On Tuesday, union workers stood outside the hospital with a message to administration: “Community Before Profits.” They say hospitals are focusing too much on making money instead of remembering why hospitals exist in the first place.
It was just after Thanksgiving when hospital Carey Myers learned McKenzie-Willamette Medical Center was laying off more than 20 employees.
“It really hit us hard. I mean, we’re like a family here at McKenzie-Willamette. All of the employees kind of ban together, so I think it affected everybody,” Myers said.
While Myers will still be technically employed, her full-time hours will be slashed to nearly nothing, which concerns her especially during the holidays.
“On January 1st, I lose that. I go to on-call, so I have no guaranteed hours and absolutely no benefits any longer,” Myers said. “I’m a mom with three kids that I’m trying to raise. I mean, this puts a really big economic hardship on me. It’s right before Christmas. I’m not going to be able to do as much for my kids for Christmas this year.”
Myers is one of many on the inside impacted by the cuts and one of many on Tuesday to make their voice heard outside.
“This hospital was built by the community, and we should be focused on serving our community. When we’re short staffed, that affects patient care. We feel that it endangers patient care even,” said medical technologist Ken Sharpie.
But the hospital says there just isn’t enough money in the budget. McKenzie-Willamette released a statement. It says in part “In the current environment, operational efficiency is critical as fewer patients seek inpatient care and hospitals still bear the burden of uncompensated care…While we recently made a small number of staff adjustments across our hospital, they will not impact the care provided for our patients.”
According to the SEIU, McKenzie-Willamette Medical Center has the lowest charity care spending in the state, charity care being uncompensated care. In the hospital statement, it mentioned that amount totaled $20 million in 2012.