Vanderbilt addresses concerns over medical center job cuts - KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana

Vanderbilt addresses concerns over medical center job cuts

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NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) -

A much clearer picture is emerging about job cuts at Nashville's largest private employer. A vice chancellor at Vanderbilt University says the medical center is in a tough spot and much more downsizing is on the horizon.

Vanderbilt released a six-page memo to employees Monday, explaining exactly where things stand, and the news isn't good.

University leaders went into great detail about some of the challenges that Vanderbilt University Medical Center and other hospitals face as they begin to find what the memo calls their "new normal."

The federal sequestration has cut into research dollars, and the hospital is getting pinched by lower Medicare and Medicaid payments.

The medical center needs to cut about 3 percent from its budget this fiscal year, and administrators say they've put together a plan called "evolve to excel" to try and make these cuts as painless as possible.

They're bringing in a consultant to help look for ways of making things more efficient, but like most hospitals, employees are the most expensive part of the budget.

Dr. Jeff Balser, vice chancellor for Health Affairs and dean of the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, writes in the memo: "Over the next two years, the overall size of the VUMC workforce will be reduced. We do not intend to accomplish this through a large-scale layoff. Rather, our approach will be one of strategic downsizing."

The medical center says it still wants to retain the "highest performing employees."

As Channel 4 News previously reported, some of these cuts have already been made. Vanderbilt said at the time that they were addressing "workplace performance as necessary."

Officials hope to achieve most of the remaining cuts through natural attrition and an early retirement offer that will be presented next week.

Through that, combined with streamlining practices when it comes to handling time off, the hospital hopes it can get where it needs to be with industry-wide restructuring.

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