Swedish may cut 300 jobs, could reassign employees to Issaquah

September 20, 2011

By Warren Kagarise

Swedish Medical Center is cutting 300 positions, although the nonprofit hospital’s chief executive said some people facing a pink slip could instead be reassigned to the system’s Issaquah hospital.

Swedish faces a $19 million budget gap due to a rise in uninsured patients, plus government cuts in Medicare and Medicaid funding.

“High unemployment in the region means we are seeing more and more Medicaid and charity-care patients, and are writing off more cases as ‘bad debt’ due to people being unable to pay their medical bills,” Dr. Rod Hochman, Swedish president and CEO, said in a statement Sept. 19.

Under the workforce reduction plan, Swedish executives intend to examine about 300 positions, or about 3 percent of the system’s workforce. The positions under scrutiny include union and nonunion jobs — as well as vacant positions — across the organization.

Executives said they intend to work to redeploy as many affected employees as possible to other parts of the system in need of increased staffing, such as Swedish/Issaquah.

“Our expectation is that the number of people who actually leave the organization will be much lower than 300,” Hochman said. “But we won’t know the exact number until we go through the methodical process of redeployment.”

Swedish/Issaquah opened outpatient services at the $365 million Issaquah Highlands campus in July. The portion containing the inpatient beds is scheduled to open in November.

Swedish financed the Issaquah project by tapping into reserves and selling 30-year bonds. The facility benefited from a $100 million fundraising campaign meant to fund capital projects throughout the Swedish system.

Operating revenue next year should be about $100 million, but Swedish/Issaquah is not expected to start generating enough revenue to cover operating costs until 2013 or 2014.

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