The expense-reduction measure accounts for approximately 2 percent of SOMC's work force, and represents workers in the areas of service, technology and clerical, plus four professionals.
No employees with direct patient care were affected. An additional 25 employees have reduced working hours. This brings the number of SOMC employees from approximately 2,300 to 2,240.
"We're very concerned about the people that are affected and their families," Arnett said. "We have them in our thoughts and prayers."
He explained SOMC had been growing 5 to 10 percent every year.
"We projected to grow again in fiscal year 2008, but when we saw we weren't going to hit those numbers," he said. "We had to make adjustments."
The work force reduction was prompted by the lack of increase in patient volumes, which remained virtually the same as last year.
"We expected increased volumes, consistent with years past," Arnett said. "This major fact prompted us to take appropriate action and correct our upcoming fiscal year 2009, by closing the gap created by expenses rising greater than revenue this past year."
Arnett explained since 2005, SOMC has grown by more than 200 employees.
"We have enjoyed steady growth for the past 10 to 15 years by making continuous improvements in our strategic values of safety, quality, service, relationships and performance," he said. "To keep SOMC one of the strongest performing hospitals in America, we need to take prompt action in reducing our expenses."
Arnett said SOMC employees have been kept informed during the planning process for the 2009 budget, and those affected officially were notified Monday. All 59 employees will have an opportunity to bid on current open positions in the organization, which will enable several to remain employed.
Arnett said after 30 days, displaced workers have first shot at dozens of jobs that are open in the hospital. The work force reduction is effective April 17.
Arnett also praised SOMC managers.
"They did a fantastic job taking a look at how they could do processes a little bit differently so as not to impact patients.
"First and foremost, the patient is the most important to us and our core business," he said.
Arnett said with SOMC's expansion to bring open-heart surgery and other services by the end of the year, it will continue to recruit and hire for key positions for which it has increased needs, such as heart, surgical and vascular services.
"Our expansion project will be completed on schedule," he said. "The capital expenditures to complete this project played no part in our current year's operating budget deficit. Our expansion is being financed through bonds over the long term and was not a negative factor."
Arnett said the construction of new facilities is crucial to the organization's continued success, bringing open-heart surgery, expanded heart and angioplasty care, additional surgery capacity and emergency room capacity. It also allows all of SOMC's hospital beds to be private - something the community has requested.
"SOMC is a strong, vital organization," he said. "It's our obligation to make changes and adjustments, when necessary, that will help us remain strong and enable us to maintain the highest level of care for our patients and our community.
"We have a strong organization here, and we appreciate the support over the years of the vast majority of people who utilize our services. We have the vast majority of all inpatients who need hospital care. We have the vast majority of patients who need outpatient care. We've earned it, but we have to continue to earn it with every patient, visitor and encounter. We'll never give up on that."
Also part of the budgeted reductions will be the elimination of SOMC's funding to Community Services for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing. The program employs seven people and operates from facilities on SOMC's South Campus, with the majority of its financial support coming from SOMC, and other support from state and federal funding. SOMC is working closely with Ohio Alliance of Centers of the Deaf for continued services in the region.
DEBORAH DANIELS can be reached at (740) 353-3101, ext. 234.