Mountain States Health Alliance hospitals have hired more than 100 nurses in the past two months, thanks to an increase in inpatient admissions and a series of financial adjustments that have allowed the health system to invest in new jobs.
The financial adjustments have involved a multitude of initiatives to reduce the cost of corporate administrative overhead and supply costs and improve operational efficiency, while also focusing on working closely with physicians to improve both the patient and physician experience.
“We are grateful to the physicians who choose to trust their patients’ care to our hospitals and outpatient services,” said Alan Levine, president and CEO of Mountain States Health Alliance. “Less than five months ago, we were cutting positions in order to cope with reimbursement cuts and declining volumes. The reimbursement cuts are still a very real concern, but volumes are beginning to improve, and so we’ve been able to invest in new, higher wage jobs at the bedside.”
The cuts made in January impacted a total of 116 team members and an additional 45 positions that were unfilled. The jobs impacted were mostly at the corporate level, and none were at the bedside. Of the 116 team members affected, about a third were re-hired by Mountain States in other positions for which they were qualified and which were not eliminated.
“It was very difficult to make changes we knew were disruptive to the the lives of our team members and their families, but it was critical, in the difficult environment we are operating in, for us to reduce our corporate cost structure in order to focus on the reason we are here, which is direct patient care,” said Levine. “
The attention to bedside care and the focus on core operational performance has resulted in increased inpatient volumes, Levine said. In the first 7 months of fiscal 2014, inpatient admissions were down 6.6 percent. Since January, however, the system has seen a 4.7 percent increase in admissions, and a 5.6% increase in adjusted admissions – a measure that includes the impact of outpatient volume growth.
“The more people choose to use our services, the more we have the capacity to create jobs,” Levine said. “The positions we are filling are those that are directly resulting from the choice of patients and their doctors to use our services rather than leaving the region. The more this happens, the more we will need exceptional clinical professionals.
“Recruitment of nurses and other key patient-care professionals is an ongoing process; it never completely stops, even when we have to make cuts in other areas of the organization. But when the region’s largest employer is able to put this much energy behind creating new jobs, that’s good news for everyone.”