By Richard Asinof
(Updated, 1:45 p.m.)
PROVIDENCE – Lifespan, Rhode Island’s largest hospital network, is undertaking what it called an “Operational Restructuring Initiative” to trim between $100 and $150 million from $1.7 billion in annual expenses over the next 30 months, hospital officials announced on Wednesday.
The newest phase in efforts to reduce its operational budget, which Lifespan spokeswoman Gail Carvelli said actually began in October of 2012, did involve layoffs, according to Carvelli. More layoffs may occur in the future, depending on the participation in a voluntary retirement plan.
To date, Lifespan said it has eliminated 107 positions, 69 of which were already vacant, from its workforce of more than 11,500. Of those jobs eliminated, Lifespan said that 28 were management level and 10 were staff level.
Lifespan also said that 500 open positions across the system have been frozen and will only be filled if it is determined that they are essential.
In addition, a voluntary early retirement program will be offered to eligible employees in the coming weeks, according to Lifespan officials.
Lifespan said that significant financial challenges brought on by the current health care environment – including “decreased Medicare and Medicaid funding,” changes as a result of health care reform, and increasing charity care – were responsible for the need to restructure its workforce.
“Lifespan’s leadership team recognizes that these are difficult times and regrets having to eliminate any positions,” the hospital network said in a statement. “The actions we are taking with the Operational Restructuring Initiative are necessary to position our system to be price competitive in the open, transparent marketplace fostered by the creation of the health insurance exchange, as well as to uphold our promise to the community to provide the most comprehensive and cutting-edge medicine available anywhere in the country.”