April 16, 2014

Elyria
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Mercy cutting 18 employees

LORAIN — Eighteen workers are being laid off in the latest round of cuts by Mercy Regional Medical Center.

Mercy spokesman Janis Yergan said Tuesday she didn’t have the job titles of the workers or how long they’d been employed at the hospital at 3700 Kolbe Road, but said that the layoffs would occur in the next month.

Yergan blamed the layoffs on federal budget cuts known as sequestration. After Congressional Republicans threatened to allow the nation to default in 2011, President Barack Obama proposed $1.2 trillion in cuts over 10 years if a compromise budget couldn’t be reached. The first round of cuts began in March with $85 billion in reductions. Yergan said sequestration will mean $1.8 million less annually in Medicare reimbursements for Mercy, which is part of Catholic Health Partners, a Cincinnati-based hospital chain.

Yergan said the layoffs wouldn’t compromise patient care.

“It was done in terms of where we needed jobs and not — overhead versus patient care,” she said. “Those decisions were made based upon what we need to serve our patients.”

Yergan wrote in a news release that the layoffs were done after eliminating job openings, enactment of voluntary time off programs and cutting spending on services and supplies.

The layoffs come after Mercy laid off 20 nonunion employees in October as part of $10 million in cuts. In November, Mercy cut pension benefits for most of its nurses as part of a new three-year contract after acrimonious union negotiations.

Mercy projected a $4.1 million deficit last year, but Yergan wouldn’t say whether the hospital projects a deficit this year or what Mercy’s annual budget is.

Yergan wouldn’t say whether any hospital administrators or Mercy CEO and President Ed Oley, who earned $704,897 last year, according to the Internal Revenue Service, would be taking pay freezes or making other concessions as part of Mercy’s belt-tightening.

Sue Morano, a Mercy nurse and member of the union’s executive board, said she was unaware of the layoffs. SEIU President Becky Williams and Secretary/Treasurer Al Bacon didn’t return calls.

There are about 590 union workers at the hospital, but Yergan didn’t know how many nonunion workers there were.

Yergan said she didn’t know how many of the workers to be laid off are members of Service Employees International Union District 1199 and how many were nonunion employees.

Contact Evan Goodenow at 329-7129 or egoodenow@chroniclet.com.