October 11, 2018

UMass Memorial Health Care lays off 17 workers

Photo/Grant Welker
UMass Memorial Health Care, which includes Worcester's UMass Memorial Medical Center campuses, has taken steps to reduce costs during a difficult budget year.

UMass Memorial Health Care, facing a multimillion-dollar budget gap, laid off 17 information-technology workers Thursday.

UMass Memorial did not say how much it expected to save from the layoffs.

"We are working with our human resources partner to make sure we are responsive to the needs of the impacted team members during this difficult transition," spokesman Tony Berry said.

The move marks the latest by the Worcester healthcare system to bring costs more in line with revenue.

Last month, UMass Memorial said it would close outpatient psychiatry practices at two locations, the Hahnemann Campus and on Queen Street, by January. Outpatient physical therapy will end at the Hahnemann Campus by January. UMass administration said in a notice to staff both of those services faced declining patient volume.

A 120-bed psychiatric facility is expected to open in January, however, at 100 Century Drive in Worcester. Inpatient physical therapy and outpatient hand therapy services will continue, according to UMass.

The UMass Memorial system has lost about $22 million year-to-date through September in its operations budget, mainly due to what it says are lower Medicaid reimbursements.

In the spring, UMass announced plans to close an inpatient pediatrics unit and a cardiac rehabilitation unit in Leominster and an urgent care center in Fitchburg. UMass said then those moves were part of a plan to consolidate services and find ways to serve patients more efficiently and cost effectively.

The inpatient pediatric unit at UMass Memorial HealthAlliance-Clinton Hospital's Leominster campus was closed. With Fitchburg's urgent care center closed, patients are instead offered to go to the CareWell/UMass Memorial urgent care center 2 miles away.

Cardiac services that were closed in Leominster are now instead available at two other facilities: the Physical Therapy Plus at Whitney Field clinic in Leominster and the Physical Therapy Plus clinic at Orchard Hill in Lancaster.

In other cuts this year, UMass eliminated endoscopy services at Clinton Hospital and closed Plumley Village Health Services on Belmont Street, shifting those services elsewhere.

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