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SSM Health trimming workforce

SSM Health trimming workforce

November 9th, 2017 by Philip Joens in Local News

SSM Health St. Mary's Hospital in Jefferson City is shown in this Jan. 23, 2017 photo.

Photo by Julie Smith /Fulton Sun.

SSM Health is cutting 1 percent of its workforce.

Jessica Royston, a spokeswoman in Jefferson City for the hospital chain, confirmed the cuts Wednesday afternoon. Royston did not specify whether the cuts are happening only in Jefferson City, if the cuts are system-wide or how many Jefferson City jobs were cut.

Most of the positions being eliminated are administrative positions and are being done because the hospital chain is facing operational and financial challenges, she said.

"This action was not easily taken and we are committed to fully supporting our employees who are affected," Royston said in a statement to the News Tribune. "This includes working to find them other comparable positions in the organization, where possible."

SSM Health has 20 hospitals and 63 outpatient care sites in Missouri, Oklahoma, Michigan and Illinois. The system employs 9,500 employees on its medical staff, and more than 35,000 employees system-wide, according to its website. In 2014, St. Mary's Hospital moved from its original location at 900 E. High St. to a new 167-bed location at 2505 Mission Drive.

SSM St. Mary's, with 1,154 employees, is the fifth largest employer in Jefferson City, according to a list of industrial and largest employers compiled by the Jefferson City Area Chamber of Commerce.

A March analysis conducted by S&P Global, a division of credit-rating agency Standard & Poor's, before SSM Health issued $500 million in bonds, said the hospital chain had an operating loss of $49.2 million in 2016. S&P Global attributed the loss to higher-than-anticipated medical costs, rising specialty pharmaceutical costs and temporary dips in key service lines like transplants.

The system planned to use the funds to refinance about $200 million of its outstanding debt and to place $300 million on its balance sheet as unrestricted reserves, according to the St. Louis Business Journal.

Royston said SSM Health, like other hospitals across the country, is facing significant operational and financial challenges due to complex and changing demands of the health care industry. The cuts came about as the result of the system's continuous efficiency evaluations.

Most of the positions are not directly involved in patient care, Royston said, adding the system is working to minimize impacts to employees. Most of the restructuring will be done through "attrition as well as optimized scheduling and work flow," she said.

Royston added the restructuring is being done to help the hospital serve patients as efficiently as possible.

"Our mission and values compel us to operate as efficiently and effectively as possible, while continuing to provide the exceptional health care services our communities need and deserve."