Sisters of Mercy Cuts 226 Positions Across Four States

John Commins, March 25, 2010

Sisters of Mercy Health System this morning announced the elimination of 226 positions across the four-state region it serves as part of a system-wide restructuring.

The layoffs affect 89 leadership positions and 137 "co-worker roles," which represent less than 1% of Mercy's 36,000 employees, said the Chesterfield, MO-based health system, in a media release.

"While these changes are not uncommon today, they nonetheless are difficult," said Lynn Britton, Mercy president and CEO. "We appreciate the community's consideration and concern for our co-workers as these changes are announced and we put our new organizational structure in place."

Mercy said the restructuring will more closely connect operations throughout the health system's four-state area and streamlines leadership, with many employees taking on new responsibilities.

"Most co-workers whose positions have been eliminated will be given the opportunity to leave Mercy immediately so that they can begin to plan their transition," the health system said. "In certain situations, co-workers may be asked to remain with Mercy for a short period of time to complete or transition their current work to others."

The redundant workers will also be offered outplacement services and severance packages.

New Bureau of Labor Statistics data for January and February show that hospital mass layoffs impacting 50 or more jobs are maintaining the pace set in 2009, a year that ended with a record 152 mass layoffs affecting more than 13,000 hospital jobs.

An informal HealthLeaders Media Internet search has found at least 10 instances of mass layoffs involving 50 or more jobs so far in March, including today's Mercy layoffs. BLS won't publish March layoff data until the end of April.

Despite the layoffs, the healthcare sector remains one of the few job growth areas of the economy. Hospitals created 33,400 new jobs in 2009, while the overall healthcare sector has created 631,000 jobs since the recession began in December 2007. In that same period, the number of jobless people in the nation has risen from 7.7 million to 15.3 million, BLS figures showed.

Mercy, the eighth largest Catholic healthcare system in the nation, provides healthcare services in Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri, and Oklahoma. The system includes 26 acute-care hospitals with more than 4,000 licensed beds, three heart hospitals, a rehabilitation hospital, physician practices, and a health plan.

John Commins

John Commins is a senior editor at HealthLeaders Media.

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