St. Joseph Hospital in Eureka and Redwood Memorial Hospital in Fortuna are laying off 68 employees today and tomorrow, Chief Executive Officer Joe Mark announced this afternoon. At a somber press conference, Mark said the reduction in workforce is necessary after a "significant dip" in the number of surgeries and outpatient services at both hospitals, but especially St. Joe's.
Of the 68 layoffs, 62 will come from St. Joseph. The vast majority are non-clinical support staff, though a few are nurses and a few are clinicians, Mark said. He attributed the decline in services to both the economy and the recent loss of four surgeons -- two general surgeons and two orthopedists -- who either retired or found other opportunities elsewhere. Rising health care costs have also taken a toll.
"As people have either lost insurance or their insurance has gone with higher copays and deductibles they've had to make a tough decision of fixing the car, fixing the roof versus maybe getting my hip replaced," Mark said.
Calling the layoffs "a very difficult message but very necessary," Mark said there will be no loss of services associated with the layoffs. The affected employees will receive their full salaries and benefits until May 30, regardless of whether they continue to work during that period, Mark said. After that date they will be given two weeks' severance pay, plus an additional week for each year of employment at the hospital (up to a max of 26 weeks). They will also be eligible for unemployment benefits.