St. Luke's Miners Memorial Hospital, Coaldale, announced today it is eliminating 30 positions from its staff, as well as reducing hours for six additional positions.

According to a news release from the hospital, the positions to be slashed include full-time, part-time and per diem employees. It includes management and staff in clinical and nonclinical jobs.

The announcement cited economic reasons. St. Luke's Miners is reporting a loss of over $1.1 million over the last half of 2009, particularly due to a decline in the areas of acute care and skilled nursing admissions.

The employees affected were to be notified today of the hospital's action.

The following is the text of the announcement that was made by the hospital:

"The nation's economic crisis continues to negatively affect hospitals across the nation, especially rural hospitals whose smaller size and slim margins make them more vulnerable to the impact of market and economic changes. St. Luke's Miners Memorial Hospital in Coaldale is no exception. Despite having achieved a remarkable turnaround over the last decade adding physicians, services, technology and facilities and growing Emergency Department visits by 80 percent and outpatient visits by 77 percent, the hospital has seen its acute care and skilled nursing admissions decline 9.6 percent over the past six months.

"Despite a number of aggressive cost-cutting measures, St. Luke's Miners recorded a loss of $1,139,000 over the past six months (July 1-Dec. 31, 2009)."

"We cannot continue to sustain these losses and ensure the region's ongoing access to the quality care provided by our hospital," says William Crossin, president, St. Luke's Miners Memorial Hospital. "Our expenses are greater than our current income. At this point, we simply must better align our workforce with our reduced inpatient volume."

Today, the hospital announced the elimination of 30 positions (including full-time, part-time and per diem positions), as well as reduced hours for an additional six positions.

Over the past few months, St. Luke's Miners previously eliminated six other positions through retirements, attrition and termination.

Affected employees include management and staff in clinical and nonclinical positions from across the hospital.

"The affected positions were carefully chosen to avoid any negative impact on the quality of care provided to our patients," Crossin said. "In some cases, our decisions have enabled us to provide a more highly-trained clinician in a direct patient care role.

"Let me assure you, we are agonizingly aware of the pain this announcement brings, most especially to our affected employees and their families. This decision was made after long and careful reflection and analysis of the hard economic factors facing Miners. I firmly believe this is the right decision at this time and that it is in the best interests of the hospital and ultimately of the community we serve. I also believe Miners and our remaining 322 full-time employees will not only rebound, but become even stronger. Nonetheless, this is a very difficult time for our hospital family," Crossin said.

St. Luke's Miners joined St. Luke's Hospital and Health Network in 2000.

Richard A. Anderson, president and CEO, St. Luke's Hospital & Health Network observed, "We have faith in the hospital and we believe in its future. Rural hospitals are an integral and essential part of the communities they serve. Miners has an engaged and loyal board, dedicated and loyal physicians and employees and enjoys outstanding community support.

Anderson also noted, "In the last five years, Miners' operating margin has increased from a negative 6 percent to a positive 1.8 percent. This is an exceptional achievement for any hospital, let alone a smaller rural hospital. They have every reason to be proud of what they have achieved and to look forward to more success as the economy recovers."

The impact of the economy on Miners is not unique. More than half the nation's hospitals have been forced to reduce staff according to a recent report by the American Hospital Association.

Looking ahead, St. Luke's Miners is actively engaged in developing strategies and services to improve the hospital's financial performance. These include: bringing additional highly-trained physician specialists to the hospital, developing new outpatient services, opening a new rural health center in McAdoo and completing a new, state-of-the-art Intensive Critical Care Unit.