ST. LOUIS COUNTY (KSDK) - More than 200 SSM Health Care positions will be eliminated, according to Steve Van Dinter, a spokesperson for SSM Health Care.
There are approximately 12,000 employees in the St. Louis area, and 206 positions will be eliminated.
Overall, SSM Health Care employs approximately 30,000 employees, and 586 of those positions will be eliminated. That is less than 2 percent of total positions.
Van Dinter says most of the positions are administrative, and not directly involved with patient care. Roughly 50 percent of the reductions will be through attrition.
These layoffs don't come as a surprise to health care experts.
Tim McBride a health care expert and professor at Washington University says he is not at all surprised by the job cuts.
He says this has been a growing trend for hospitals before health care reform came into the picture.
Just this year we've seen BJC lay off 160 workers, Liberty Hospital, a hospital in Kansas City, lay off 130 and the University of Missouri Health Care announce they will not fill 90 vacancies in the coming year.
Mcbride says while yes, there will be many more that have health insurance, they will be urged to go to primary care physicians not straight to the emergency rooms.
"That means that big systems like SSM and BJC need to restructure and take some of the dollars out their big health care systems and move them towards doctor's offices," said McBride.
Unfortunately McBride says he doesn't think the layoffs at larger hospital organizations are over. He is expecting even more layoffs for some of these companies.
Van Dinter released the following statement to NewsChannel 5:
"SSM Health Care is committed to providing exceptional, high-quality health care to the communities we serve. At present we, and other health care organizations, are facing unprecedented changes and challenges. These include, but are not limited to, a shift of patients from the inpatient setting to the outpatient setting, reduced reimbursements from federal payors, increased bad debt and charity care as well as the financial impacts that have come as a result of sequestration.
"Given this dramatic shift in the health care environment, we've taken an even harder look at best practices, efficiencies and standardization around our system. We found opportunities for us to improve the services we provide to our patients by standardizing and consolidating some of our administrative functional areas across the system and organizing departments in a more efficient way.
"Unfortunately these consolidations along with other necessary reductions have resulted in the loss of less than two percent of positions out of more than 30,000 in the system. This includes less than two percent as well here in St. Louis out of more than 12,000. Most of these are administrative positions and not directly involved with patient care.
"While difficult, this new structure will allow SSM to be better prepared for upcoming changes in the health care industry while continuing our focus on making the patient experience the best it can possibly be."