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More than 40 workers laid off at Penrose-St. Francis Health Services

May 15, 2018 Updated: May 17, 2018 at 6:17 am
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Penrose-St. Francis Health Services laid off 42 employees this week, a hospital spokesman confirmed Tuesday.

The hospital system's layoffs included Mark Hartman, the leader of St. Francis Medical Center, as well as other employees at "all levels of the organization," according to Chris Valentine, a Penrose-St. Francis spokesman.

The dismissals, which were issued Monday, mark the first layoffs at Penrose-St. Francis in at least a decade, Valentine said.

They come as the hospital system's parent organization and owner, Catholic Health Initiatives, struggles with deep losses that contributed to delays in the expansion of St. Francis Medical Center, on the city's northeast side.

Wendy Forbes, a spokeswoman for Centura Health, which manages the hospitals, denied that CHI's financial woes contributed to the layoffs.

In a statement, Penrose-St. Francis leaders said the layoffs were part of a "new staffing model" that would affect less than 2 percent of the hospital system's employees.

"This new model is designed to increase efficiency of operations and position ourselves for the vibrant growth occurring in our community," the hospital's statement said. "It is important to note that this change will not affect the services offered at either Penrose Hospital or St. Francis Medical Center or the compassionate whole person care our community expects."

Before the layoffs, Penrose-St. Francis employed 3,066 people, Valentine said. No doctors were among those dismissed.

The last day for the affected employees will be in about two weeks. Lonnie Cramer, Penrose Hospital's chief administrative officer, also will oversee St. Francis Medical Center, Valentine said.

The dismissals come just two months after nearly 300 people were laid off at CHI's St. Mary Corwin Medical Center in Pueblo. And they come at a time of change for Penrose-St. Francis.

The hospital system's CEO, Margaret Sabin, resigned in March after nearly a decade in charge of the organization. During that time, it transformed from a financially troubled system into a major player in the city's health care landscape. She helped oversee the growth of St. Francis Medical Center, and she spearheaded plans for a new $550 million campus on the city's west side.

In December, CHI announced a merger with Dignity Health that would form a $28.4 billion Catholic health care behemoth.

CCHI, a not-for-profit system, has been operating in the red for several years, topping out at a loss of $585 million in fiscal 2017, Modern Healthcare reported in February.

However, it performed far better in the first few months of 2018, cutting its operating losses by two-thirds.

Valentine said the layoffs in Pueblo were a "totally different scenario" that involved several factors unique the Pueblo market.

Valentine said no further layoffs for the Colorado Springs hospitals are planned.

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