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Kaiser issues pink slips to Manteca hospital employees
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Kaiser Hospital in Manteca handed out pink slips to an undetermined number of employees Tuesday morning – part of a Northern California region cut back.

Some 1,200 hospital workers from Fresno to the Sacramento area were laid off in what was described as a two per cent workforce adjustment at some 40 Kaiser locations.

Gay Westfall, senior vice president, human resources, Kaiser Foundation Health Plan/Hospitals, Northern California, said Tuesday in a news release that Kaiser continues to feel the effects of a difficult economy and the uncertain industry environment.

Westfall cited lower Medicare reimbursement rates and changes related to health care reform.

“We needed to take these steps today in order to prepare for the coming changes in the latter part of this year and into 2010,” he said.

He added that unemployment has accelerated to a 30-year high of more than 11 percent in California, and the state budget crisis has further aggravated the effects of the economy.

“As a result we have lost members, experienced lower patient volumes and have seen a slowing revenue trend that is expected to continue into next year,” he said.

Westfall noted that the firm has deferred merit salary increases for non-represented hospital and health plan employees, adjusted timelines for their capital spending, reduced full-time employee counts through attrition.

The Kaiser spokesman said that one-third of the eliminated positions were temporary, on-call or short-hour employees.  The actions will not result in reductions in the level of service and quality care that is routinely provided to Kaiser members and patients, Westfall added.

The hospital reports offering severance packages with up to 52 weeks of pay, extended health care benefits and assistance in the finding of new employment opportunities within Kaiser Permanente.

The Manteca hospital was formerly owned and operated as St. Dominic’s Hospital a property of St. Joseph’s Hospital in Stockton.