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MSHA system adds more than 100 nurses

May 26th, 2014 9:56 pm by Staff Report

MSHA system adds more than 100 nurses

JOHNSON CITY — Mountain States Health Alliance (MSHA) hospitals have hired more than 100 nurses in the past two months, citing an increase in inpatient admissions and a series of financial adjustments that enabled the system to invest in new jobs.

Those adjustments have involved a multitude of initiatives to reduce the cost of corporate administrative overhead and supply costs and improve operational efficiencies, while also focusing on working closely with physicians to improve both the patient and physician experience, MSHA said.

Among its facilities across the region, MSHA operates Norton Community Hospital in Norton.

"We are grateful to the physicians who choose to trust their patients' care to our hospitals and outpatient services," said MSHA President and CEO Alan Levine.

"Less than five months ago we were cutting positions in order to cope with reimbursement cuts and declining volumes. The reimbursement cuts are still a very real concern, but volumes are beginning to improve, and so we've been able to invest in new, higher wage jobs at the bedside."

The cuts made in January affected a total 116 employees and an additional 45 positions left unfilled.

Most of the jobs were at the corporate, administrative level, none at the bedside.

MSHA said of the 116 affected employees, about one-third were re-hired by Mountain States in other positions they were qualified to perform and ones that weren't eliminated.

"It was very difficult to make changes we knew were disruptive to the lives of our team members and our families, but it was critical in the difficult environment we are operating in for us to reduce our corporate cost structure in order to focus on the reason we are here, which is direct patient care," Levine said.

He said the attention to bedside care and a focus on core operational performance resulted in increased inpatient volume.

In the first seven months of fiscal 2014 inpatient admissions were down 6.6 percent. Since January, however, the system has seen a 4.7 percent increase in admissions and a 5.6 percent increase in adjusted admissions.

The latter is a measure that includes the impact of outpatient volume growth.

"The more people choose to use our services, the more we have the capacity to create jobs," Levine said.

"The positions we are filling are those that are directly resulting from the choice of patients and their doctors to use our services rather than leaving the region. The more this happens, the more we will need exceptional clinical professionals."

Levine said recruitment of nurses and other key patient care professionals "is an ongoing process. It never completely stops, even when we have to make cuts in other areas of the organization. But when the region's largest employer is able to put this much energy behind creating new jobs, that's good news for everyone."

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