Hospital consolidation could lay off more than a dozen

LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) – More than a dozen Franciscan St. Elizabeth Health employees could lose their jobs later this year.

Franciscan St. Elizabeth Health CEO Terry Wilson said it’s all part of a consolidation move that will save millions of dollars a year.

“When we’re finished with this, there will be fewer people employed here. There’s just no other way to address it. Exactly how many I don’t know,” said Wilson.

There are still a number of unknowns about consolidation plans announced Tuesday.

What is known is that the emergency room sign at Saint Elizabeth Central will be taken down. In its place will be an urgent care facility that will be open eight to 12 hours a day.

“Many of the visits to the emergency room are urgent care level visits. That’s one of the things that helped us make the decision,” said Wilson.

Though the nearest emergency room for West Lafayette and downtown Lafayette residents is now on the far east side of town, Wilson said critically injured residents are still just as safe. In fact, the most critically injured haven’t been sent to the Central campus for some time.

“The key time period is how long they take to get to you and that hasn’t changed,” said Wilson.

The ER isn’t the only consolidation targeted for Sept. 1.

Two acute medical units and the intensive care unit are moving from the Central campus to the East.

Wilson said it’s a move that was designed to happen when the East campus opened in February 2010, but there weren’t enough beds at the time. However, the space is now available because of several factors, including a push by insurance companies to cut expenses and length of hospital stays.

“A lot of pressure on how long people stay in the hospital will create that capacity, inpatient capacity, in any hospital,” said Wilson.

Wilson said, on average, 28 people are in the units that are moving combined. But they have a combined capacity of 99. It’s part of the reason he believes it will save millions of dollars every year, though exact totals are not known.

“None of this has to do with the quality of service or the care that they provide, it’s outstanding. We’re grateful for their commitment to the patients who serve here,” said Wilson.

Multiple task forces have been formed to determine how best to configure what’s left on the Central campus which includes a psychiatric unit, a rehab unit and a long-term acute care hospital run by another outside group.

“In all likelihood there will be parts of this facility that are vacant as a result of that planning. We just don’t know what those might be,” said Wilson.

The target date for the consolidation is Sept. 1.

There are more than 1,900 combined employees at both hospitals, Home Care and Nursing School, many who work at both campuses.

Wilson said performance, seniority and skill sets will all be factors to determine employees are kept and which are laid off.

One thing that will remain open at the Central campus is the chapel that has someone praying in it around the clock.

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