Northwestern Medical Center (NMC) has offered employees a Voluntary Reduction in Force (VRIF) program as part of the hospital’s 10-point plan to return to financial sustainability after more than three years of significant financial losses.
“This is a difficult message for staff to hear and a difficult message to deliver,” said Interim Chief Executive Jerry Barbini. “In my first month here, I have been impressed by every staff member I have met. We are saddened to be in a position where a reduction of force is necessary.”
The VRIF program is available to all employees except providers, those in hard-to-fill positions such as bedside Registered Nurses (RNs), and those with critical specialized knowledge. Those accepted into the program will receive a severance package of wages and insurance coverage. Employees have until May 8, 2020 to apply for the voluntary job elimination program.
“In late April, the NMC Leadership Team shared a 10-point plan with all staff and our medical staff for our return to financial sustainability,” said Barbini. “The hospital has lost millions of dollars since 2016. While NMC is not in an emergent financial position yet, the trajectory of losses is alarming, and we must take action immediately.”
NMC’s 10-point sustainability plan includes:
- Applying to the Green Mountain Care Board for a mid-year rate increase;
- Securing federal reimbursement to help offset a portion of COVID-19 expenses;
- Reducing investment in RiseVT;
- Altering construction plans;
- Using tele-medicine to strengthen patient access to care;
- Reducing Administration by not filling the open Vice President of Physician Services position;
- Preparing to restore elective surgeries and procedure as soon as safe and authorized;
- Aligning staffing with volumes and revenues;
- Changing service lines to more tightly match community need, financial viability, and excellence; and
- Adjusting benefits and pay practices to better align with common practices while remaining competitive.
“No hospital can simply cut their way out of the financial challenges we all face,” said Barbini. “However, impactful reductions in expenses have to be a significant part of our efforts. Going forward, hospitals like NMC need to look significantly different. This was true even before COVID-19 arrived, as our losses date back to 2016 and exceeded $9 million in our most recent fiscal year. NMC has to return our focus to the fundamentals of our mission of providing exceptional care for our community and shape our business accordingly.”
NMC’s target for the Voluntary Reduction in Force program is to bring each department’s staffing to the level necessary to meet the projected volumes moving forward from COVID-19. If the VRIF program does not reach those levels, NMC has informed staff that an involuntary reduction in force will be necessary. NMC anticipates these reductions to be complete by May 29, 2020.