Summa to cut 300 jobs, consolidating services

AKRON, OH (WOIO) - A big shakeup is underway at Summa Health.

Hospital officials say the company will eliminate 300 positions. In addition to cuts, Summa plans to discontinue and consolidate some services.

Interim President and CEO Dr. Cliff Deveny confirmed the move to cut jobs in a memo sent to employees.

Staff reduction is being blamed on operating losses.

Read the full memo below:

As I finish my first 100 days back at Summa Health, I continue to absorb all that I've heard from you – the good, the bad and the expected. I have consistently heard that, while you have concerns about Summa's cultural shift, you remain passionate supporters of Summa Health and our community. Now, more than ever, we need your passion and spirit of collaboration because Summa Health's future as Akron's locally controlled adult hospital and the area's largest employer depends on us working together toward unified goals.

This year, inpatient and outpatient volumes are dramatically down and, as a result, we are facing staggering operating losses. Our current projections show us going from a profit of $30 million last year to a loss of more than $60 million this year. While we have considerable cash in reserve to protect us for the short term, this trend must stop immediately. In response, you will see several changes over the next month:

  • We are eliminating approximately 300 positions. Roughly half of these positions are currently open and we will work closely with those impacted individuals to provide outplacement services. While the primary goal is to eliminate administrative layers in the organization, all functions are affected.
  • We will be discontinuing certain services that are better provided in other more appropriate settings. We have to stick to our core mission to the community.
  • We are reevaluating our ongoing capital needs. All new projects must be evaluated against our critical strategic goals. The West Tower project will continue as scheduled because, as we've noted, this investment is necessary to help Summa achieve its long-term mission.
  • We will consolidate units and services to make sure we are operating as efficiently as possible. We cannot afford to maintain multiple half-full units or have duplicate operations in multiple functions.

While some might be quick to place blame, there are multiple factors, both internal and external impacting our organization. As far back as the middle of last year, leadership warned that 2017 would be a challenging year financially — far below the positive outcomes in 2015 and 2016. These projections came before the turmoil at the beginning of the year, which certainly worsened the situation. What are these factors?

  • The healthcare industry is changing rapidly, and hospital systems are being hurt by what is occurring in Washington and in state capitals across the country. As a smaller, locally controlled health system, we suffer disproportionately.
  • When a patient enters one of the larger systems in the region, they tend to utilize other caregivers and specialists within that system. Too often, that is not the case here. As an organization dedicated to population health, we must do a better job of providing for the complete health needs of patients within our system.
  • A growing number of independent physicians, including some larger private practices, have admitted they are intentionally not referring their patients to Summa Health and claiming concerns about our quality of care. Despite these assertions, the quality of our care has been validated by external accreditation bodies, and we continue to deliver high-quality, compassionate care in our community. Ultimately, this goes back to our need to strengthen and repair relationships, and the time has come for Summa and our independent physicians to come together and commit to working more closely with one another for the betterment of our community. • We are not working hard enough across our entire system to make patient access a priority. Simply put, the number of days that pass before our patients are able to see their physician must improve immediately.

It's time to get past assigning blame and work toward shared ownership of a solution. We are developing a plan with your input on solutions that we will execute together. I ask everyone to look in the mirror and ask what we can do within our own sphere of influence to improve our situation.

As we do so, we need to use the three guiding principles I laid out last month as our North Star. They are:

The Best Care for Patients and Members

Our quality is good, and we can and should always focus on making it even better. SummaCare has returned to a 4-star rating and many of our services have recently been cited for their exceptional outcomes. We all must spread the word to counteract misinformation in the community.

Everything we do is, and should always be, about delivering high-quality care in a compassionate setting, without exception. If you are not serving the patient, you should be serving someone who is.

We take care of each other. These are difficult times, and we must be there for our co-workers as well.

  • A Great Experience

Experience is about more than just the quality of care we provide. It's about the feeling our patients, visitors and health plan members have when they enter our facilities and interact with our employees, both clinical and non-clinical.

It is the responsibility of everyone in the organization to make our patients, visitors and members feel welcome and well cared for.

Go above and beyond to offer great service and always remember to be kind.

  • Growth

While we've focused on operational synergies over the past few years — with great results — we need to put our energy toward volume growth initiatives.

We have created a new management structure that is designed to allow for greater opportunities for growth across the organization.

To be successful, we must all start working more collaboratively to eliminate barriers to swift and decisive actions.

If we don't do these things, I can assure you the name on our badges will no longer say Summa Health, our employees at all levels of the organization and our community will see unprecedented change, and our independent physicians will be faced with the reality of what it means to practice in a community that no longer has an independent, local option for them.

I believe today, as strongly as I did when I decided to come back to Summa, that we can be successful. Yet we must do it with eyes wide open, and I send you this letter so you can understand what is at stake and what we must do, not only for Summa but for our community. As I've said, many of you have expressed to me your dedication to Summa Health and the Akron community. I believe that commitment is real, and now we will all have to demonstrate it through our actions in the months ahead.

Cliff Deveny, M.D.
Interim President and CEO

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