Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare confirms job cuts - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare confirms job cuts

WATERLOO (KWWL) Evidence this evening the healthcare system is not immune to poor economic times. Monday, Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare formally announced the company is cutting jobs.

The President and Chief Executive Officer Jack Dusenbery tells KWWL 15 people will lose their jobs. Another 65 positions will be re-designed through retirements, attrition and voluntary reductions.

The cuts are because of the economy and a local increase in the number of patients unable to pay their bills.

During the past year, Wheaton says it provided $56 million dollars of community benefit and un-reimbursed care.

Assistant Professor of Economics David Surdam taught health economics at Loyola University and the University of Oregon.

Surdam said as with other goods and services, some healthcare visits and procedures are discretionary and if people lose their jobs, they might choose to put off hospital visits.

"After enough layoffs, people who are not insured may defer some of their hospital treatments and in the process of deferring there would be less demand on services of the hospital and the hospital would cut back," said Surdam.

Surdam speculated the job cuts at Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare are proactive to ward off more drastic cuts later on. He said more cuts at more hospitals could depend on the length and depth of the recession.

"Even if it's a very deep recession but short, I'm assuming most of the people will have some sort of coverage because you don't lose it immediately in many cases, but if it's a recession of prolonged duration then I'd anticipate more and more people become uninsured and defer healthcare treatment," he said.

Surdam also said as more people lose jobs and insurance, hospitals may see more patients unable to pay bills, leaving the hospitals to absorb the costs.

Wheaton sited an increase in uncompensated care as one if its reasons for cutbacks.

Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare is also cutting all fitness classes at Sartori Memorial Hospital in Cedar Falls starting February 2nd.

Classes at the Covenant Wellness Center at the Kimball Ridge Location will continue operating as usual.

Reporter: Danielle Wagner

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