U of I Hospitals announces layoffs - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

U of I Hospitals announces layoffs

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by Bryan Goettel

IOWA CITY (KWWL) - Despite cutting back... Eliminating more than $23 million in costs this year, there is word of impending layoffs from the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics.

Positions will be eliminated through attrition, retirements and layoffs.  But the worst part for many is just not knowing when they'll come and what departments will be affected.

University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics has been battling its budget for months. They've tried several different ways to cut costs without cutting jobs. But it hasn't been enough. Now layoffs are coming.

"It's another in a series of disappointing news from the hospital," urologist Michael O'Donnell said.

Hospital leaders have taken pay cuts. Employees have been asked to give back vacation days. Some have even voluntarily reduced their salaries . Now word that layoffs are in the works. O'donnell says it's taking a toll on morale.

"People wonder about their job security," O'Donnell said. "Many people have been here for over a decade and it's just a lot of tough news to try to take home every day."

"Given the way the economy is and how it hasn't quite bounced back like everyone had hoped, I'm not entirely surprised that it happened," first-year resident Christopher Hogrefe said.

Hogrefe says he'll be fine. He's more concerned about his wife, who works at the hospital as a nurse.

"The thought crosses your mind about whether or not my wife's job would be impacted and maybe not that she would lose her job or maybe her hours would be cut," Hogrefe said.

Larry Yanausch is a utility worker who has worked at UIHC for almost 20 years. He says departments like his are getting hit the hardest.

"You get rid of all the little fish, you're not going to be able to feed the big fish anymore," Yanausch said.

But hospital officials say they are committed to cost-cutting moves that won't come at the expense of patient care.

"Frankly, patients are going to notice it as well," O'Donnell said. "They already do."

"I just noticed today we seemed to wait for quite a while to be seen," Jaffa Henry said.  Henry drives from Fort Dodge to take her father to the hospital for regular cancer treatments.

"It may mean that people will have to work harder and expand their roles or their duties, but I would be shocked if the institution let that happen," Hegrefe said. 

The layoffs are likely to be announced within the month.

The hospital currently operates with a staff of 6,600.

Officials say they need to cut their 2010 fiscal budget by $45 million.

Online Reporter: Bryan Goettel

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