Mercy Iowa City hospital reduces staff, cuts hours amid low inpatient numbers

Mercy Iowa City announced layoffs and staff-hour reductions affecting 115 employees.


The Daily Iowan; Photos by Josep

Mercy Hospital as seen from the street in Iowa City on Thursday, May 4, 2017. Mercy is affiliating with the Mercy Health Network in the near future. (The Daily Iowan/James Year)

Sarah Watson, [email protected]

The elimination of 115 jobs at Mercy Iowa City will affect mostly administrative and support areas, officials announced at an employee meeting last Monday, marketing director Margaret Reese said in an email to The Daily Iowan.

Mercy will lay off and reduce hours for 65 full- and part-time positions due to competitive Iowa City market. Another 50 positions will be eliminated after employees or otherwise leave the hospital.

Interim CEO of Mercy Iowa City Shane Cerone said the cause of the reduction was due to the “challenging and competitive market in Iowa City,” in an email to The Daily Iowan.

“Mercy Iowa City, along with support and resources from Mercy Health Network, is making changes to improve our operating and financial performance,” Cerone said in the statement. “After careful consideration, the difficult decision was made to rebalance our workforce by eliminating or reducing the hours of approximately 65 full and part-time staff positions.”

In April of this year, Mercy Iowa City became affiliated with Mercy Health Network, according to a news release on the hospital’s website. The Catholic health-care system based in West Des Moines has 42 hospitals and 207 medical centers clinics in Iowa under its affiliation.

In months leading up to the merger with Mercy Health Network, Mercy Iowa City was negotiating a partnership with UnityPoint Health — Cedar Rapids. Both parties signed a letter of intent to provide joint health-care services in December, but after a short period of talks, the agreement fell through.

In 2016 about a third of Mercy Iowa City’s staffed beds were filled on an average day, as recorded in Mercy Iowa City’s 2016 application to the Iowa Department of Inspections and Appeals. The daily census recorded an average of 67.21 filled beds out of a capacity of 234 staffed beds.

“Hospital leaders monitor patient volumes and revenues and make staffing adjustments as needed,” Janelle Pittman, the vice president of Marketing and Communications at Mercy Health Network said in an email to The Daily Iowan. “Mercy Iowa City provides health care services in an extremely competitive market and needed to make significant changes due to a decline in patients served.”

RELATED: UIHC, nursing school faces nurses shortage

At the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, however, about 80 percent of its capacity was filled on an average day. Its 2016 application gave an average daily census of 614.9 filled beds out of 755 staffed beds.

“We are continuing to hire,” Tom Moore, a spokesman for UI Health Care said. “Especially frontline staff who provide patient care.”

UIHC will hold a job fair in October for nursing positions at the UI Stead Family Children’s Hospital for careers in areas such as pediatric, neonatal, mother-baby units, peri-operative, and ambulatory services.

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