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HSHS system, including Sacred Heart and St. Joseph’s to reduce staff by 10%

Published: Aug. 6, 2020 at 2:40 PM CDT
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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) - HSHS announces it is reducing approximately 10% of its staff in Illinois and Wisconsin, including Sacred Heart Hospital in Eau Claire and St. Joseph’s Hospital in Chippewa Falls.

In addition, some services will also be changing. The Women and Infants Center at St. Joe’s is closing for the foreseeable future.

With elective procedures happening again HSHS says it's inviting back the majority of employees placed on furlough a few months ago.

However, a woman who spoke to WEAU says she’s not one of those being welcomed back.

Hospital Sister’s Health System had to make changes to its workforce earlier this year, such as furloughs and executive pay reductions in response to a decline in patients coming in to the hospitals.

In a statement to WEAU, HSHS said in part quote,

"In order to provide the best chance for a strong, stable future for HSHS through and after this unpredictable pandemic, we have made the difficult decision to reduce approximately 10% of our workforce in Illinois and Wisconsin."

Jennifer G., a former HSHS nurse who didn’t want her last name used said,

"A lot of the employees were offered to volunteer to be on furlough and I took that opportunity to be with my kids".

She had been on furlough since March, and recently she got a call from a supervisor in her department.

"They said my position was no longer available and that if I wanted to come back to work the only position available was over nights Friday and Saturday".

She says her supervisor wanted her to start immediately, but Jennifer says her family situation made accepting the new position difficult.

"Sometimes my husband works out of town so I couldn't give an answer whether I could work that position … the next day I was contacted by HR and was asked to pay back my sign-on bonus since I had voluntarily quit my position, to which I said I didn't quit!"

When she went to apply for unemployment a day later, she found out she didn't qualify since the record shows she voluntarily quit by offering to go on furlough.

"I felt very nervous because I had no time to find a new position, for my family".

Jennifer says she's now looking for a nursing position at other hospitals, but it seems there are many others in the same position as her.

"To the other nurses, I hope you have a backup plan, because you may not be coming back to the position you were furloughed with … a lot of us nurses like to take care of everyone else, take care of yourself. It's a very stressful time".

HSHS concluded its statement saying, "We are grateful to our patients, colleagues, and communities for their understanding and support. Despite this time of significant change, our commitment to provide high-quality care and make a positive difference in the lives of all throughout the Chippewa Valley remains unwavering".

HSHS is also changing St. Joseph's ICU to a progressive care unit.

This new unit serves patients who do not require intensive care, but need closer monitoring and more frequent nursing assessments than can be provided on a general care floor.

Patients who require intensive care will be transferred to HSHS Sacred Heart Hospital in Eau Claire.

The entire statement on behalf of Hospital Sisters Health System says, Hospital Sisters Health System (HSHS) continues to stand proudly behind its entire staff that is providing critically important services as the communities we serve deal with COVID-19. Earlier this year, the pandemic shifted how patients preferred or were allowed to use their local healthcare services, and HSHS saw a significant decline in the number of patients coming to our facilities. That led to negative financial impacts, and we had to make changes to our workforce including furloughs and executive pay reductions. Now that we are able to offer elective procedures again, we’re seeing a rebound in the number of patients coming to us for care, and we are pleased to announce we are inviting back the majority of colleagues that had been placed on furlough a few months ago.

However, we are unable to bring back all of these furloughed colleagues. In order to provide the best chance for a strong, stable future for HSHS through and after this unpredictable pandemic, we have made the difficult decision to reduce approximately 10% of our workforce in Illinois and Wisconsin. The majority of these colleagues are non-clinical. We remain strongly committed to providing high quality healthcare and to making a positive difference in the lives of our patients and our communities, especially in this time of great need.

Some of the services offered at HSHS Sacred Heart Hospital and HSHS St. Joseph’s Hospital are also evolving during this time so that we can continue to provide the highest quality of care to our patients and better meet the needs of our communities. This includes a change to the intensive care unit (ICU) at HSHS St. Joseph’s Hospital in Chippewa Falls. The ICU has transitioned to a progressive care unit (PCU) within the medical/surgical department. This new unit serves patients who do not require intensive care, but need closer monitoring and more frequent nursing assessments than can be provided on a general care floor. Moving forward, patients who require intensive care will be transferred to HSHS Sacred Heart Hospital in Eau Claire, where advanced resources and board-certified intensivists are available 24/7 to deliver high-quality, intensive care.

We have also had to make the difficult but necessary decision to close the Women and Infants Center at HSHS St. Joseph’s Hospital, for the foreseeable future. While labor and delivery services and other types of inpatient women and infants care are no longer available at HSHS St. Joseph’s Hospital, there are two important services that remain: pre-natal appointments and childbirth classes. Labor and delivery services are now entirely offered at HSHS Sacred Heart Hospital. This decision does not come lightly as we know the incredible reputation HSHS St. Joseph’s Hospital and its Women and Infants Center team have had for providing high-quality, personalized care for patients. However, we know mom, baby and family are in exceptional hands at our sister hospital in Eau Claire.

At HSHS Sacred Heart and HSHS St. Joseph’s Hospitals, we are grateful to our patients, colleagues and communities for their understanding and support. Despite this time of significant change, our commitment to provide high-quality care and make a positive difference in the lives of all throughout the Chippewa Valley remains unwavering.

*Hospital Sisters Health System has 15 hospitals between Illinois and Wisconsin and fully owns two Illinois-based physician groups: Prairie Cardiovascular Consultants and HSHS Medical Group.

Copyright 2020 WEAU. All rights reserved.

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