Dartmouth-Hitchcock layoffs will not affect those in Bennington hospital

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BENNINGTON >> Layoffs announced last week at the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Health System, which employs doctors at the local hospital, will not impact those working in Bennington, according to Southwestern Vermont Health Care President and CEO Thomas Dee.

Dartmouth-Hitchcock Health System, based in Lebanon, N.H., intends to lay off 3 to 5 percent — between 275 and 460 — of its staff by the end of the year.

Dartmouth-Hitchcock and Southwestern Vermont Health Care became affiliated in 2011 and have since advanced research and medical services. In a memo released on Sept. 9, Dr. Jim Weinstein, chief executive officer and president of Dartmouth-Hitchcock, stated that fiscal year 2016 ended in a $12 million deficit in addition to a $40 million overestimation of revenues.

Because personnel expenses amount to 64 percent of the institution's overall costs, Weinstein said the number of employees will be reduced by the end of the year. According to Rick Adams, Dartmouth-Hitchcock communications and marketing director of external relations, there hasn't been a final decision on the extent of the layoff.

Those in the medical group at SVHC are Dartmouth-Hitchcock employees, but they won't be impacted by the layoff, according to Dee.

"They're based here and work under SVHC practices, so they're staffing our services," he added. "There's no impact to the physicians who work down here. The action they're taking really relates to their main medical center in Lebanon. It affects their corporation."

Last week, Weinstein visited Bennington to speak with SVHC's leader and "reaffirmed their intent to move ahead with all the services," Dee said. Existing plans for expansion of medical services, such as telemedicine, will be implemented as scheduled, and other services will be added as well.

"We want to keep our relation to Dartmouth and we'll continue to do that. We want to work on more in the future," Dee said. "I fully expect that they're a talented organization. It's a difficult time for them. They'll correct what they need to correct and get back to being a strong operating institution."

Dartmouth-Hitchcock serves approximately 40 percent of patients from Vermont and employs about 9,200 people, according to VT Digger.

According to Weinstein's memo, compared to fiscal year 2015, there was a $115 million expense increase this year due to a new business system, revenue management system and associated labor, as well as travelers, supplies and pharmaceutical costs. He cited other health care organizations across the country that have reported facing economic challenges.

In order to recover from the deficit, Weinstein wrote that the system needs to make $100 million in improvements quickly. He then labeled it a performance improvement process.

More information will be made available toward the middle of October.

— Contact Makayla-Courtney McGeeney at 802-490-6471.


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