Swedish down $250,000 a day; layoffs imminent

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by LINDA BRILL / KING 5 News

KING5.com

Posted on March 20, 2012 at 6:48 PM

Updated Tuesday, Mar 20 at 7:01 PM

SEATTLE -- Swedish Medical Center announced they are losing $250,000 a day, and layoffs are likely in the next few weeks.

The Seattle Times reported on the internal memo from Swedish CEO Kevin Brown.

Word spread on campus Tuesday, and the staff said they felt like they were in the dark.

"It's hard to say," said one employee. "We're learning what's going on as of today."

"Every effort is being made to minimize or avoid the impact at the patients bedside," said Scott Bond from the Washington State Hospital Association, calling patient care "paramount."

The problem is a statewide problem. Nearly every hospital in Washington is lowering staffing levels, primarily because of lower payments for Medicare and Medicaid.

"Government reimbursement is going down faster than the institutions can adjust," said Bond.

Insured patients are staying away because out-of-pocket costs are higher. More uninsured patients are coming in and the government is cutting health care funding.

A big concern is will the layoffs damage patient care?

"If there [are] layoffs, the quality will go down," said Sherrie Hughey-Lytle, a nurse at Swedish. "Nurses can only take care of one patient at a time, and you have to have enough so they're not stretched too thin."

"Anytime you have not enough staff for the proper care the current technologies require, then you can't help but have a little bit less care," said Dr. Victor Barry, D.D.S.

Two-hundred sixteen Swedish employees were laid off last month.

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