UCSF STANFORD: To Cut One in Six Jobs to Stem Deficit
UCSF Stanford Health Care announced yesterday it would eliminate some 2,000 jobs in an attempt to balance its books, which left unattended could bleed $170 million over the next two years. The San Francisco Chronicle reports that the job cuts had been expected since UCSF Stanford revealed first-quarter losses totaling nearly $11 million last month. Union officials said the job cuts would harm patient care and expressed "frustration" that UCSF used to be profitable before it merged with Stanford. "It would be very hard to stop all the labor organizations who opposed the merger from saying, 'I told you so,'" said Libby Sayre of the United Professional and Technical Employees. But UCSF Stanford President Peter Van Etten said the losses stemmed from the competitive managed care market in San Francisco where HMOs have been successful in holding down hospital costs (Abate, 3/30). "The imperative for us to act was very pressing. We're caught in a vise of rising cost and declining reimbursement" for Medicare and Medicaid patients, Van Etten said.
The cuts, which would amount to one in six jobs at the four- hospital network, would come in two phases, with administrative positions hit hardest in the first round. Van Etten said job cuts would account for about two-thirds of the systems' plan to stem losses, with the remainder "from reductions in supply costs and other measures" (Chui, San Jose Mercury News, 3/30). The Chronicle reports that the cuts would not directly affect UCSF or Stanford doctors, but one physician said the cost-cutting -- which includes a request for doctors to trim 15% from what they normally spend on drugs, tests and other supplies -- is bound to affect patient care. Dr. Warren Gold, president of the UCSF Faculty Association, said, "That's a huge reduction, and I'm not sure it can be accomplished when you're treating the complex sort of patients we treat at these hospitals" (3/30).