As many as 1,500 jobs will be eliminated at Duke University Medical Center in Durham, N.C., hospital officials said last week.
The jobs will be cut over the next two years as part of the hospital's effort to reduce annual expenses by $70 million.
Medical center employees are being notified of the hospital staff reductions in a letter from Ralph Snyderman, M.D., chancellor for health affairs, and the hospital's chief executive officer, Mark Rogers, M.D. The hospital executives said in their letter that restructuring of hospital operations is required to respond to the changing healthcare needs of Duke's patients.
"While we provide outstanding medical care, it is too expensive," the letter said. "Unless we take action that reflects changes in the way individuals and groups seek and pay for healthcare services, our position as a leading academic medical center will be threatened."
The hospital is being paid less for each patient, partially because more people are being seen on an outpatient basis, the letter said. Healthcare reform will mean even fewer patients, the executives said.
About 600 to 800 employees will be laid off, hospital officials said. The remaining positions will be eliminated through enhanced voluntary retirement incentives and continuation of a hospital position review process that already has trimmed more than 200 positions without layoffs, the officials said.
The hospital now has 8,000 full- and part-time employees. Officials expect to have information about the number of voluntary reductions in late September.
Sixty percent of hospital expenses are related to jobs, said Michael Israel, the hospital's chief operating officer.
Staff per hospital bed runs nearly two positions above national averages for major academic medical centers and for the hospitals in the region with which Duke competes for patients, he said.