Columbia/HCA Healthcare Corp. officials have been forthright in outlining their initiatives to move some back-office and supply-chain functions from individual hospitals to consolidated, centralized locations. What has not been articulated are the number of job cuts or the cost savings the move will entail.
Already though, some hospitals that have not had to deal with layoffs in the past are beginning to grapple with the effects of the corporate mandate.
Employees at Columbia's 179-bed Portsmouth (N.H.) Regional Hospital, for example, recently learned that 67 jobs would be cut over a two- to three-year period, which coincides with Columbia's time frame for getting its 10 to 13 proposed revenue centers up and running around the country.
Columbia has proposed consolidating some supply and revenue functions at these and other centralized locations and has already tested parts of the concept in Nashville and Richmond, Va.
All of the jobs are related to business office functions like billing, collections, purchasing and warehousing. None of the cuts in Portsmouth is related to patient care, said hospital spokeswoman Nancy Notis.
It's the first time in recent memory that the New Hampshire hospital has had to implement layoffs, Notis said. The hospital was built by Columbia predecessor Hospital Corporation of America in 1987.
"(The employees) are going to be given opportunities for retraining and transfer," she said. "They are still working through the details."
Columbia spokesman Jeff Prescott said he didn't know how many jobs would be cut throughout the company. But all of Columbia's roughly 207 hospitals will feel some sting.
Hospital chief executive officers have begun briefing their business offices on the company's initiative, Prescott said.
Some back-office functions, such as scheduling and admissions, will continue to be performed at each hospital. Where it makes sense to consolidate, such as in billing and collections functions, the work will eventually move to one of the revenue centers. Columbia expects to have four pilot centers up and running within six months, Prescott said.