PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — A plan by Rhode Island's largest health system to save $100 million to $150 million over the next two and a half years through significant jobs cuts will also include cuts to its physician training program.
Lifespan announced this week that it's eliminating a total of 122 positions, mostly in management, as part of the first phase of a major restructuring. More than half the positions were already vacant, but some employees have been laid off, including physicians.
The health system— the state's largest private employer — said it will also reduce the number of residents it trains beginning in July 2014. Spokeswoman Gail Carvelli said Thursday that Lifespan hasn't yet identified which resident and fellowship positions will be cut. None of the current 590 residents will be affected.
Lifespan is affiliated with Brown University's Warren Alpert Medical School.
President and CEO Timothy Babineau said in March that Lifespan was facing a significant budget shortfall, in part because of lower reimbursement rates, an increase in charity care, longer patient hospital stays and the "prolonged economic slump in Rhode Island." He warned then of cost-cutting measures.
In a memo sent Wednesday to employees, Babineau said that the system is working to identify "additional efficiencies and consolidations" but that he doesn't know yet whether there will be more layoffs.
"These are very difficult times, which require difficult and heart-wrenching decisions," he said.
At the same time, Babineau cited what he called a major opportunity for Lifespan to attract new revenue. He said the hospital network would more aggressively try to attract Rhode Island patients who are getting treatment across the border in Massachusetts — often, he said, because they mistakenly think the care is better there.
Lifespan's hospitals include Rhode Island Hospital and its pediatric division, Hasbro Children's Hospital; The Miriam Hospital; and Bradley and Newport hospitals. The health system has more than 11,500 employees.
The first phase of the reorganization also includes the freezing of 500 open positions. Babineau said that critical ones will be filled but that Lifespan anticipates a permanent reduction of an additional 200 positions.
A voluntary early retirement program will be offered to some employees in the weeks ahead.