Sinai to cut up to 70 jobs; Hospital revenue affected by efforts to keep costs down; Health care


With revenue limited by state efforts to hold down hospital charges, Sinai Hospital announced yesterday that it will lay off some employees, although none of those cuts are expected to be in primary patient care.

Jill Bloom, a hospital spokeswoman, said the number will be "less than 70" of its 3,000 employees.

Bloom said some of the employees have been notified, but that the hospital had not completed its review of potential cost-cutting measures. "We're looking at everything -- people and programs," she said.

She said the layoffs would "run the gamut" of job categories, but "it doesn't look like anyone in direct patient care" would be affected. She said no programs have been dropped as a result of the first wave of layoffs.

The Health Services Cost Review Commission, which sets hospital rates in Maryland, ordered most hospitals to reduce their average charge per case by 1 percent beginning April 1 and to hold the line on rates for 15 months. By the end of that time, the commission expects to have devised a new rate-setting mechanism.

Bloom said she did not have figures on whether the hospital was losing money but "we certainly are not doing as well as we did last year."

Maryland hospitals lost money in the quarter that ended June 30, according to preliminary figures from the Maryland Hospital Association -- the first time in five years the industry had a net loss in a quarter. Those figures were for the state's hospitals as a group, and did not show results from individual institutions.

The hospital association blamed the red ink on lower Medicaid rates, increasing payment denials by insurers and rate reductions ordered by state regulators.

The cost review commission cut rates after the cost of an average hospital stay in Maryland -- 12 percent below the national average as recently as 1992 -- climbed to 8 percent above national benchmarks last year.

Bloom said Northwest Hospital Center and Levindale Hebrew Geriatric Center and Hospital, which, like Sinai, are part of LifeBridge Health, are not affected by the layoffs. LifeBridge has about 6,000 employees.

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