Empire Health Services, Spokane, Wash., said it will eliminate 130 full-time-equivalent positions as part of a $10 million cost-cutting effort to put the two-hospital system back into the black this year. Empire also will defer some information technology projects, renegotiate outsourcing contracts, freeze nonessential travel and cut hours in nonessential areas such as the cafeteria and the outpatient pharmacy, spokeswoman Christine Varela said. The two-hospital system saw its census decline by 3% compared with 2006, Varela said. Empire recorded a loss of $7.1 million on net revenue of $298.7 million in 2007, according to the system.
Empire agreed last year to be acquired by Community Health Systems, Franklin, Tenn., for $172.1 million, including working capital. Community also agreed to spend $100 million on capital projects in the first five years after completing the deal. The deal is still pending. The Washington state Department of Health is reviewing the certificate-of-need application needed to complete the deal, and a public hearing will be required as part of that process, Varela said. Neither the hearing nor a deadline for completing the CON application has been set. -- by Vince Galloro
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