In a press release issued this week, Northern Inyo Healthcare District announced it would lay off approximately 3% of its workforce.
This equates to 15 positions out of 460.
The 15 positions, according to Board Chair Mary Mae Kilpatrick, are in management.
NIHD had planned to lay off 22, according to Kilpatrick, but seven people opted to take pay cuts to stay with the District.
The layoffs will be finalized no later than April 21.
From the presser: “Our focus steadfastly remains on delivering quality care for the community,” Interim Chief Executive Officer Lionel “Chad” Chadwick says. “To that extent, no positions in direct patient care are being reduced. However, it should be noted the District has made great efforts to reduce the number of contracted traveling nurses within our operations, providing substantial cost savings.”
Like many healthcare facilities nationwide, NIHD has experienced financial strain from the lasting impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, high inflation, and labor shortages. The most significant effect continues to be low reimbursement rates for Medi-Cal and Medicare, together a large percentage of NIHD’s revenue.
Chadwick notes that while 15 positions may seem small to the public, since December, the District froze several positions as those became vacant due to retirements, resignations, or interdepartmental relocations. Savings from the frozen positions is $1.5 million. Chadwick anticipates the District will save an additional $1.5 million with the 15-member reduction in force.
Still, Chadwick notes, more is needed. “Our Turnaround Group has taken a deep dive into our operations, hoping to find ways to balance our finances and improve our efficiencies,” Chadwick says. “We’ve acted on many opportunities, large and small, in hopes of not having to undergo this workforce reduction. Unfortunately, the community needs to understand we are facing more difficult decisions, which may affect service lines, days of operation, hours of operations, and more. Everything is on the table. As I’ve told the team, there are no sacred cows.”
That includes Interim CEO Chadwick himself. At last Wednesday’s special NIHD Board of Directors meeting, he proposed elevating Chief Financial Officer Stephen DelRossi to Interim CEO for at least six months while DelRossi maintained his permanent role as CFO. The Board immediately entered negotiations with DelRossi.
If an agreement is reached, the move would either eliminate Chadwick’s role or reduce his role to an on-call consultant, saving the District an executive salary. The outcome of DelRossi’s negotiations will most likely be announced at the Board’s next meeting, Wednesday, April 19.
Chief Nursing Officer Allison Partridge also holds a dual leadership role serving as Interim Chief Operations Officer. The District rounds out its Executive Team with Hospitalist Dr. Stefan Schunk serving as Interim Chief Medical Officer following the recent departure of Dr. Joy Engblade.
The Sheet had heard rumor that NIHD would declare bankruptcy at its next board meeting, but this rumor was shot down by Chadwick and Kilpatrick.
However, Kilpatrick said the question was put to CFO DelRossi at a Northern Inyo Hospital Foundation meeting this week. His response: “We have nine months to get our act straight.”
I did follow up with NIHD to ask for various Anesthesiology contracts in the aftermath of the Board controversy surrounding non-renewal of Dr. Kevin Efros.
And you begin to realize just how out-of-touch some medical providers are given NIHD’s perilous financial condition.
To wit. NIHD had contracts with four anesthesiologists (Efros, Grant Meeker, Jennifer Meeker and Paul Kim).
Each was required to take 12 call shift per months.
Each was guaranteed to make a minimum of $37,500/month in base compensation (for those 12, 8-hour shifts) or $450,000/year.
Each was required by contract to work at least 26 weeks per year.
The fundamental issue is that we now have a bunch of folks who think they should receive city wages. Which may be warranted if you’re paying Mammoth real estate prices, but … these folks are not.
But NIHD suggesting it could find a CRNA (Nurse Anesthetist) for $220,000/year is similarly ludicrous.
Seeing as it had agreed to contracts with two CRNA’s within the past five years that paid each CRNA (David Nicholson and Amy Saft) approximately $400,000/year.
Those contracts were from the unfortunate Kevin Flanigan era.
Flanigan effectively bought off the doctors and specialists by signing them to big money deals. They served as his political base.
Consider: Pre-Flanigan, NIHD had contracts with anesthesiologists Curt Schweizer and Dan Cowan which paid them base compensation of approximately $288,000/year based upon 12 days/month worked.