PeaceHealth Announces More Layoffs In Oregon

Vancouver, Washington-based PeaceHealth plans to lay off 40 people in Lane County.

A PeaceHealth spokesman said the layoffs will be spread across its four hospitals in the county.

“We employ more than 4,500 caregivers in the Oregon network; approximately 40 positions have been affected, with opportunities for many to move into other roles,” he said in a statement. “Decisions that impact caregivers are among the most difficult decisions we make. It is a step we take only after thoughtful and thorough deliberation and a review of all alternatives.”

The statement did not detail what positions would be eliminated or where. A spokeswoman for Service Employees International Union Local 49 -- SEIU Local 49 --  said 28 obstetrician technicians, orderlies and patient team support positions at Sacred Heart Medical Center at RiverBend in Springfield would be affected. There are 1,000 SEIU employees at the hospital.

“Given the history of PeaceHealth's issues regarding staffing and the various complaints filed with the Oregon Health Authority, we are not sure how new mothers and babies are going to get the care they deserve with these staffing cuts,” SEIU said in a statement. “Our members enter into talks with the new and expanding families they care for at the front of their minds.”

The layoffs take effect in two weeks at Sacred Heart in Springfield, the union said. It's not clear when staff at other hospitals will be let go. 

These layoffs follow others at PeaceHealth facilities over the past year. The nonprofit laid off 23 midwives, nurses and other staff last July when it closed its standalone Nurse Midwifery Birth Center in Springfield. That same month it also laid off 50 people from the company’s technology division as part of a consolidation in Vancouver.  Then in October, laid off 50 people and created 15 new positions as part of a streamlining of its “support services structure.” 

PeaceHealth has hospitals in Oregon, Washington and Alaska. Most of them are financially mediocre, losing money or generating a small profit. Two stand out as the financial workhorses: Sacred Heart Medical Center at RiverBend and St. Joseph Medical Center in Bellingham, Washington near the U.S.-Canadian border. They make big profits year in and year out, essentially subsidizing the rest of PeaceHealth’s operation.

For an in-depth analysis of PeaceHealth’s finances, see our earlier coverage.

It's not clear when staff will be let go. PeaceHealth said in its statement that it offers layoff packages to affected employees.

"We offer comprehensive transitional support consistent with our policies and practices to all impacted caregivers," the statement said.

SEIU said it's working with affected members to find positions similar to their current roles.

You can reach Lynne Terry at [email protected] or on Twitter @LynnePDX.

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