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2/10/2009 11:37:00 AM
Experts: Layoffs unlikely at Northwest Indiana hospitals

Times of Northwest Indiana

BY SUSAN ERLER, Times of Northwest Indiana

Large-scale job cuts like those announced Monday by the University of Chicago Medical Center appear unlikely for Northwest Indiana hospitals, industry officials said.

The University of Chicago Medical Center said it will eliminate 450 jobs and cut hundreds more through attrition because of the worsening economy. A hospital spokesman cited a decrease in endowments, fewer patients and a delay in payments from the Illinois Medicaid program for treating low-income patients as causes for the crunch.

Northwest Indiana hospitals contacted Monday said jobs appear intact for now.

The University of Chicago Medical Center faces unique circumstances as an urban hospital serving a large number of uninsured people in a state in which Medicaid reimbursement has slowed because of budget shortfalls, said Samuel Flint, assistant professor of health care economics at Indiana University Northwest in Gary.

"The delay in payment is really clobbering them," Flint said. "That's more of an Illinois state issue than a regional or national trend."

Indiana hospitals aren't immune, said Douglas Leonard, president of the Indiana Hospital Association.

"The financial crisis is impacting hospitals," Leonard said. "Hospitals are reporting higher rates of uncompensated care, reduced access to capital and higher interest payments.

"In response, we are hearing that they are exploring cost containment in numerous ways, including postponing construction projects or cancelling them, salary cuts, freezing salaries, cutting services and administrative layoffs," Leonard said.

It's unlikely nurses will face layoffs, Leonard said.

"No layoffs are planned," by the Porter hospital system in Porter County, spokeswoman Kelly Credit said.

It was a similar story for Community Healthcare System, which operates Community Hospital in Munster, St. Catherine's in East Chicago and St. Mary Medical Center in Hobart.

"At this time, the hospitals of the Community Healthcare System are not planning layoffs," spokeswoman Mylinda Cane said.

"No significant layoffs are expected" by the Sisters of St. Francis Health Services, which includes St. Anthony hospitals in Crown Point and Michigan City and St. Margaret Mercy hospitals in Dyer and Hammond, regional CEO Gene Diamond said.

Methodist Hospitals CEO Ian McFadden was in a board meeting and could not be reached for comment Monday.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Copyright 2016,, Munster, IN

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