CRH Responds to Questions on Cutbacks

The Calais Advertiser sat down with DeeDee Travis, Community Relations Director, and Everett Libby, Board Chairman, to discuss last week’s article and the situation unfolding at the hospital. 

Q: Are the employees’ health benefits impacted by the cuts to their hours? 

Travis: It depends on their hours. If someone went from part time to Per Diem (15 hours or less per week), if they had enough hours cut to become Per Diem status then they would no longer have health benefits. But if their hours changed from full time to part time, they are still entitled to health benefits. 

Q: What is the definition of a Special Care Patient? 

Special Care Definition:  A patient that requires assistive breathing devices or IV drips to maintain their blood pressure.  Or a patient who is hemodynamically unstable.

 Q: With the parameter of patients being so distinct, how do you foresee the hospital being able to support itself? 

With the type of patients that we see, the patients that we transfer out would is such a very small percentage of patients that would have kept anyway. We  know that that is going to affect a small slice of our community and we want to be everything we can be, but have to realize what our limitations are. 

Q: So you are saying that the number of patients that you will allow to stay and be treated here will be enough to keep the hospital viable over the long term? 

Travis: Absolutely. There are enough services here that  we offer, if our community utilized them, we are able to offer more than enough services for that. 

Libby: Let’s address that in a different way. We will lose 3.2% total volume of total care patients, by no longer taking special care cases.  The problem is, to keep special care open, you have to have special trained nurses to keep the critical care unit open 365 days a year.  The amount that it was costing the hospital for that 3.2% was so great, it was the main reason we had to stop the Critical Care Unit. It isn’t for everyday patients. It’s such a small percentage of patients that require Special Care. 

Travis: There is also a cut in expenses.

Q: Those cuts, did you have a plan in mind? What positions did you focus on?

DeeDee: There is nothing that was done across the board. Every department was impacted differently.

Travis: Those cuts were across the board. There went from clinical to non clinical, clerical, general staff, mid level was affected, senior management; there wasn’t one are of focus. We did it to align ourselves with other facilities of the same size who were making it work. 

Q: The types of positions that were cut, if you were looking at one specific area where you know you have to make X number of cuts, what’s the decision making process? 

Travis: That’s where HR policies would come in place. Any of our staff that are union, it goes by their union contract with how that worked. It followed our HR Policy. So in fact, sometimes seniority comes into play, but sometimes it was a part time staff comes over a per diem staff. We stuck by our HR policies. 

Libby: One thing I wanted to bring up is the statement that the RN’s were protected by their union. This isn’t true. Nobody was protected. We have union staff, not just RNs that were affected. 

DeeDee: We tried to do a very hard thing in the fairest, most consistent way possible. As hard as it was, that’s what we had to do. 

Q: Is this something you see as a permanent change in our hospital or a temporary reduction in staff? 

Libby: That depends on our community. It’s almost impossible to predict what’s going to happen. If our volumes came back and our payor mix improved, I think that you would see people that we need brought back on. 

Travis: The driver is the volume. We can only have staff work when there is business to take care of. You can only do that for so long. 

Q: Do you see a pivotal situation that started this decline? 

Travis: This has been going on in all hospitals. Some of it is the economy, but it’s health care industry as a whole has changed. 

Libby: We as a small hospital can no longer be everything to everyone. We are just one of many hospitals facing this crisis. 

 DeeDee: We have awards to prove that we are excellent at what we do. 

Q: Do you see the hospital being eligible for these awards in the future with the downsizing? 

Both: Absolutely. Our volumes are down and we have to reduce staff. That has no bearing on the quality of care.