ST. PAUL, Minn. (FOX 9) - Tuesday, a group of health care professionals and community leaders held a town hall meeting to address job cuts in the M Health Fairview System. A longtime nurse in the system said the layoffs could have statewide implications.
“Right now, we don’t know the number of nurses that will be cut,” said Modestus Okorie. “They have figures that are kind of like a moving target.”
After nearly 20 years on the job, Okorie, a registered nurse at M Health Fairview Bethesda Hospital in St. Paul, fears his job is in jeopardy.
In December, the health care provider announced a reduction in workforce that will cut roughly 340 employees.
“Some of our managers are gone,” Okorie said. “Some of the pharmacists are gone, social services, physical therapists, occupational therapists...most of them are cut.”
M Health Fairview also reduced the number of beds at the long-term care facility.
“My biggest concern to start with is the patients, OK?” he said. “So, if you are shrinking beds from over 100 to 50, which means there are some patients that won’t be admitted there. Where do the patients go?”
Facing a projected $80 million budget deficit, the Minneapolis-based nonprofit health care system is facing what it calls an affordability crisis. With that, concerns loom that St. Joseph’s Hospital, also in St. Paul, could be shutdown altogether.
Fairview Health Services released a statement that reads, in part, “We are proud Fairview meets so many important needs in the community. It is a commitment we are not walking away from.”
The Minnesota Nurses Association, which is in the midst of contract negotiations with Fairview is calling for more transparency.
“Personally, as a nurse, we are stressed out. We have families, so we need to know what’s going on, we need to make plans, we have kids in college. We have people to take care of, so there’s a lot of anxiety over our work,” Okorie added.
M Health Fairview acquired Bethesda and St. Joseph Hospitals, also known as Health East, a few years ago.
STATEMENT FROM FAIRVIEW HEALTH SERVICES:
We appreciate the community sharing their thoughts about how we work together to create solutions. Nationwide, healthcare is facing an affordability crisis; for far too long, rising healthcare costs have been passed on to patients and their families. Fairview is taking a proactive lead in thinking differently about how it delivers high-quality care that is affordable and accessible, which means we have to transform. We are looking carefully at the programs we offer all our patients to ensure we are providing the best care in the most effective ways, including our Recovery Services Deaf and Hard of Hearing Program, which has consistently experienced extremely low patient volumes over the past several years. Combining the Recovery Services Deaf and Hard of Hearing Program with our Lodging Plus program is both a clinically effective and sustainable way for us to offer this service.
We are aware of concerns surrounding St. Joseph’s and Bethesda’s, and the desire to collaborate on how to best serve St. Paul’s mental health needs. We are proud Fairview meets so many important needs in the community. It is a commitment we are not walking away from.