BEND, OR -- St. Charles continues to take steps to close a massive budget hole expected in 2018. "The most difficult is having a layoff of up to 30 people," says St. Charles Health System President/CEO Joe Sluka, "We’ve also reduced wages for certain positions: our executives are taking a 10% decrease and then our exempt caregivers will be taking a 5% decrease." He tells KBND News those getting pink slips will be notified this week. "Their last day may not be the end of the week; it’ll be determined by position. There will be a couple of severance options that they can choose from. I’m trying to figure out what is best for them. Also, we will be providing out-placement services, for those folks that have been displaced; and also looking at open positions within the system that they can apply for."
Sluka is also negotiating voluntary buy-outs for dozens of other employees, "These were people that had an interest in leaving the organization for a variety of reasons, and we offered them that opportunity. We were able to accept 72 of those buy-outs." The terms of those agreements will be finalized before the end of November.
The company has been working for months to close a $25-$35 million gap in its 2018 budget
. Sluka says layoffs, buy-outs and pay cuts are just one of several necessary measures. Merit-based pay raises will be suspended and many caregivers who remain with St. Charles will pay more for their health insurance, next year. Sluka says they're "Shifting some of the benefit premium dollars from the health system to our caregivers; it’s about a 5% shift in those premium dollars." Changes to pay raises and benefit costs do not affect Oregon Nursing Association (ONA) members.
Impacts of the cutbacks will be felt across all St. Charles properties and Sluka hopes those 100 jobs will be the only ones lost. But, he says, "We can’t make any promises at this point, because of the uncertainty that’s out there right now. We’re really at, to some extent, the mercy of what happens both federally and from a statewide perspective; and, 75% of our current reimbursement is government pay."