Queen of the Valley lays off 55 employees

Medical center trying to close $8.3 million budget gap
2012-04-25T15:28:00Z 2012-04-26T23:11:53Z Queen of the Valley lays off 55 employeesISABELLE DILLS Napa Valley Register
April 25, 2012 3:28 pm  • 

Queen of the Valley Medical Center laid off 55 employees Wednesday and reduced the hours of an additional 20 employees.

The hospital has been working to close an $8.3 million budget gap, which President and CEO Walt Mickens said was created by the economic downturn, decreased reimbursements for patient services, fluctuating number of patients and sharp increases in charity care and bad debt.

The reductions affected employees at all pay grades and levels of training including managers, licensed health professionals, support, assistive and clerical staff members.

Affected employees were given a 90-day advance notice rather than the required 60-day notice to provide them more time to adjust to the transition, Queen spokeswoman Vanessa deGier said. Eligible employees also will receive severance pay and benefit continuation based on years of service, personalized career planning and job search support, and spiritual counseling, Mickens said.

“My thoughts and prayers go out to these individuals. They are dedicated employees, co-workers and friends. Their departure is our loss,” Mickens said in a letter to employees.

The hospital, which employs 1,425 people, had its last round of layoffs in 2008. Eighty positions were expected to be eliminated that year, but fewer than 50 positions were actually cut, deGier said.

Last year, the Queen faced an even larger budget deficit of $23 million. That number was brought down due to revenue increases and budget decreases, including a request for voluntary layoffs in which 39 employees took buyouts, deGier said. A memo sent to employees at that time did not rule out the possibility of “involuntary” workforce reductions.

Over the past several months, executives at the Queen have worked to reduce the budget without eliminating positions. Mickens said they have:

• decreased department budgets;

• held wages at current levels;

• not replaced jobs when someone leaves;

• reduced other non-salary expenses such as travel and catering.

These efforts reduced the budget shortfall by $4.5 million, deGier said.

“Unfortunately, these actions were not enough to align revenue and expenses and we had to look to staffing as an area to cut spending,” Mickens said.

Payroll and benefits consume the largest portion of the hospital’s annual budget, accounting for more than 60 percent of the expenses the hospital incurs each year, deGier said. The reductions will save the hospital $3.2 million.

Some of the employees whose positions are being eliminated will be eligible to fill open positions at the Queen or within St. Joseph Health System, the parent organization of the hospital.

“We are working to do everything we can to find positions for impacted employees where appropriate,” said Robert Eisen, vice president of Human Resources.

Copyright 2015 Napa Valley Register. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(32) Comments

  1. Magoo
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    Magoo - April 25, 2012 7:46 pm
    I'm sad for those that lost their jobs but even more sad for the reasons why.
    QVMC, like most other health care institutions, are suffering from the recession and the corrupt health insurance industry. Many people are suffering through many an illness without seeking care because they simply cannot afford it. I'm embarrassed that we are the very last industrialized country that has a system that expects profit from basic healthcare. "Do no harm"(?)
  2. NapaGirl1970
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    NapaGirl1970 - April 25, 2012 9:37 pm
  3. NapaGirl1970
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    NapaGirl1970 - April 25, 2012 9:38 pm
    someone is making the big $$$
  4. rpcv
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    rpcv - April 26, 2012 8:02 am
    Magoo, I'm with you. Recently I heard someone say that "insurance" is something you buy for unexpected, unlikely events. Therefore the term "Health Care Insurance" is itself wrong and misleading, since everyone needs periodic medical check-ups and will most likely find themselves sick at some point. Health care should be a right, not a privilege.
  5. glenroy
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    glenroy - April 26, 2012 8:07 am
    Interesting Napagirl...a lot has changed since 2006...but the Queen had amazing growth in the reported period.

  6. Concerned Citizen
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    Concerned Citizen - April 26, 2012 9:30 am
    This news is very sad. I am sorry that good people are being laid off. It's too bad some of the money paid for so many entitlement and give away programs can't somehow be filtered into some thing that is truly valuable rather than simply continuing the age of entitlement. I know it will never happen because taxpayer funds go to social engineering issues; not health or necessary issues.
  7. NapaDoc
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    NapaDoc - April 26, 2012 10:39 am
    The "inside" info is this is a consequence of Napa State Hospital sending their patients all the way to Sonoma and Marin, the prison system sending their patients all the way to the Stockton area and the city/county of Napa CONTINUING to funnel their patients to the Kaiser Hospital in Vallejo. Your elected politicians have created the tailspin the hospital is facing because the only patients left are thousand of uninsured ag workers. Will interesting to see what happens when police/fire are forced to drive all the way to St. Helena or Vallejo when the Queen is finally forced under. WTG elected leadership! Destroying Napa 1 incompetent decision at a time.
  8. vocal-de-local
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    vocal-de-local - April 26, 2012 11:06 am
    Concerned Citizen said: " I know it will never happen because taxpayer funds go to social engineering issues; not health or necessary issues."

    So true. We don't have our priorities straight.

    Also, social engineering wouldn't be so important if people who needed it would be more responsible about the amount of children they bring into the world whom they can't afford. It just adds to their struggles and the social costs we all pay. In our discussions of socialized healthcare (which I support up to a point, although it should not be free) we also need to add planned parenthood and birth control to the dialogue. These should be an integral part of socialized medicine.

  9. glenroy
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    glenroy - April 26, 2012 12:09 pm
    Has nothing to do with private insurance….
    Notwithstanding NapaDoc’s comments who no doubt knows more about government agency services; the various ‘government’ healthcare programs pay a fraction of what the private companies pay for the exact same service…the balance owed added to private insurance costs.
    Anyone seriously concerned about healthcare needs to understand what drove costs to this point, just overlay congressional mandates a couple decades ago that all emergency room services have to be provided regardless of the patients ‘willingness’ to pay, and the bulk are abel they just can't be forced to. Public education costs have exploded over the same period…can’t blame that on the healthcare providers.

    Just look what they did to college loans after obama socialized...today an interest cost 6% while nearly impossible to get, when banks provided education loans the cost was at 2% and maybe too easy to get.
  10. Joe B
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    Joe B - April 26, 2012 12:24 pm
    The Supreme Court is debating this issue, it will probably turn out to be unconstitutional. The costs are ridiculous to make up for the uninsured. We are already paying for them, with higher premiums and ongoing higher co-pays. Baby boomers needing more health care are also straining the system. As an added cost we could loose our ER! That would give a different meaning to cholesterol numbers, let alone what’s the little one putting in his mouth.
  11. napkan
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    napkan - April 26, 2012 6:58 pm
    glenroy said: "Has nothing to do with private insurance….Notwithstanding NapaDoc’s comments who no doubt knows more about government agency services; the various ‘government’ healthcare programs pay a fraction of what the private companies pay for the exact same service…the balance owed added to private insurance costs...."

    Glenroy, you are so wrong about private insurance payers. You're clearly not in health revenue cycle management! Private payers have taken advantage of the situation and lowered many reimbursements strategies to mirror government. Napadoc speaks the truth. When all you're left with is uninsured who somehow have enough $ to live here and welfare to have babies, that is the rub. Napa government ais like leaves blowing in the wind, same with state and federal government. Government is not a good sterward of our taxes. When it comes down to it, do you really want them to manage your health too. Good healthcare is a right, yes. FREE healthcare is a privilege...
  12. Missy56
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    Missy56 - April 26, 2012 11:20 pm
    "The hospital, which employs 1,425 people, had its last round of layoffs in 2008. Eighty positions were expected to be eliminated that year, but fewer than 50 positions were actually cut, deGier said." Huh? What do you call the obliteration of the QVMC medical transcription department in 2011 due to outsourcing landing people in the unemployment line?
  13. divided we fail
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    divided we fail - April 27, 2012 4:24 am
    Sadly what was once the envy of care, now it just like the all others, just enough to get the government off their backs. 55 families will be hurting for the next months, and how many families will suffer, when there loves ones not have the care they need, because of short staff. And I'm sure the SEIU, and their Union thugs had there filthy hands on this firing to get the Queen unionized. Sadly the Queen bit, and its going to get worse, I love my local doctor, but Kaiser is looking so much better right about now...
  14. rocketman
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    rocketman - April 27, 2012 5:19 am
    NapaDoc is correct........all of these issues are destroying our economy and Obama wants more entitlements.....
  15. long time napan
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    long time napan - April 27, 2012 6:59 am
    I don't know anything about the huge building that has been under construction for a year or so right behind the Queen; but if laying off how does that work?

    Hate to say it but I am feed up with the free stuff at others expense. Everyone knows someone who gets away with using the system and it seems many who struggle are folding. Although I don't think I can ever retire but I am rethinking my plan. Seems it doesn't pay to work the long hours I do now, as it is attacked. No sense in saving as that is attacked. It seems best to lay low, earn low and take big...I am getting old and tired and just can't keep up. I see people half my age receiving benefits who aren't and won't work like me. I am frustrated....Why should I struggle to get my health care insurance paid when I can lay low, not work so long of hours and get free health care, food and low income housing etc. What is that saying...If you can't win them join them? I think I will take off today!
  16. naparn8
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    naparn8 - April 27, 2012 11:04 am
    Yes, there are some people making big money at the Queen. A lot of people, actually. We now have more layers of administration than before, and they were not affected by these layoffs. We have many directors, and we have administrators who are out of touch with what is going on where it counts: on the floors, with patient care. Instead of cutting back on some of those costs, front line employees have lost their jobs. Many highly trained respiratory therapists were laid off, and now some of their duties will be added to the already overworked bedside nurses. Some of our most valuable employees, our nurse practitioners, have lost hours. Yet we still have registered nurses walking around the hospital with clipboards, asking if we are having any problems with our computers. We still have administration making decisions with no input from the front line employees about how those decisions will impact patient care. We need to cut from administration, and make patient care a priority again
  17. vocal-de-local
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    vocal-de-local - April 27, 2012 11:47 am
    naparn8, I agree that the Queen is administratively heavy. I also think that the make-up of the community adds an additional burden. We have this very large low income Napa County workforce who are often uninsured. Additionally, we have another segment of the population who are elderly (many who occupy the vast number of mobile home parks). These people use Medicare which requires a lot of hoops to jump through (more red tape equals the need for more specialized employees). Billing/coding has become very complex and then there's another layer who must make sure everything conforms to HIPAA security rules.
    For the Queen, I think it's a collectively huge weight that's crushing them. Kaiser on the other hand, has probably adapted with streamlined care and administration. They can afford to have a heavyweight facility in one region because they are a large enough corporation to absorb it. The Queen is like a small business by comparison at this point.
  18. umanyar
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    umanyar - April 27, 2012 12:15 pm
    There is all kinds of speculation going on here. Why don't we recognize the 800 lb gorilla in the room, namely that huge 4-story wing expansion in the back of the Queen. I don't want to call it a white elephant but it sure seems like a likely an albatross around the Queen's neck right now...
    Overbuilding, or bad management can bring any company to its knees...

    The so called evil unions are certainly not at fault...actually the employees there voted AGAINST unionization six months back so please lay off the union-busting propoganda if possible. Actually I suspect some of those laid off people might be regretting their vote against unionizing right now.

    As far as government entities not going to the Queen any more for services, actually alot of those moves had to do with the Queen's management overcharging these state government departments...Yes those so-called evil state government agencies have managers too, they saw they were getting bilked, and they moved on.
  19. skeptic
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    skeptic - April 27, 2012 1:51 pm
    naparn8 said: "Yes, there are some people making big money at the Queen. A lot of people, actually. We now have more layers of administration than before, and they were not affected by these layoffs. We have many directors, and we have administrators who are out of touch with what is going on where it counts."
    this link is out of date and out of area, but it represents the kind of thing you are talking about. while they fire valuable floor workers already on a skeleton crew, st. joseph administrators get 28% raises up to 2 million in our taxes and insurance payments. i don't know of government administrators who make that much, even the president doesn't.
    i would like to have more up to date figures on how administrators of st. Joseph's in this area, above the ceo of the queen, are doing. it's common that administrators get free health care 100% paid for life with no co-pay. golden parachutes abound
  20. skeptic
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    skeptic - April 27, 2012 1:53 pm
  21. skeptic
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    skeptic - April 27, 2012 2:01 pm
    the sorts of compensation reported in Florida, North Carolina, and Texas are a product of the current management culture that has been infused into nearly every health care organization in the US. That culture holds that managers are different from you and me. They are entitled to a special share of other people's money. Because of their innate and self-evident brilliance, they are entitled to become rich. This entitlement exists even when the economy, or the financial performance of the specific organization prevents other people from making any economic progress. This entitlement exists even if those other poeple actually do the work, and ultimately provide the money that sustains the organization. "

  22. cochese
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    cochese - April 27, 2012 3:03 pm
    Must be getting ready for Obamacare
  23. Lightout
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    Lightout - April 29, 2012 6:32 pm
    The current economic situation at the Queen has nothing to do with "Obamacare", most of which has not even taken effect yet. The Queen used to be a profit center for the Sisters of St. Joseph of Orange hospital chain. It is no longer, primarily due to two issues: Poor economy and poor management. The poor economy has caused people to delay health care needs, or eliminate health care for the increased number of unemployed, underemployed and uninsured. The poor management involves many financial areas of the hospital and has been chronic for many years. The Synergy building--doesn't make money. The Outpatient Surgery Center--great idea, doesn't make money. The "white elephant" in the back of the hospital that Umanyar spoke of, is a building that is seismically required to upgrade areas of the hospital that will not withstand a decent quake. That building, at least, is required, even if it doesn't make money.
  24. Magoo
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    Magoo - May 01, 2012 9:41 am
    Good lord, are people ever gonna wake up?
    Q; Who is the single largest land owner in the world?
    Q; Who owns The Queen?

  25. vinegal6
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    vinegal6 - May 01, 2012 1:44 pm
    Way to go Queen of the Valley! You just earned yourself 55 more uninsured patients and their families to drain your resources. And this isn't the first time... 90 people laid off in 2008, closure of the entire med/surg/chemo floor in 2010, the "voluntary separation" campaign of 2011, outsourcing of the transcription department in 2011, and now 70+ more employees laid off or hours reduced in 2012... Funny how administration and upper management always seem to be protected from these cuts. There are "nurses" who walk around and call themselves "educators" who never teach classes OR the patients. Cut ONE of them and you've saved yourself 3 CNAs! It's always the front line workers directly involved in patient care and satisfaction that are cut. So what does that mean for YOU, the pateint? Your nurse is busy taking on the tasks of nurse aide, pharmacy tech, lift team, housekeeping, IV tech, etc... so you're just gonna have to wait a bit longer for that diaper change or pain medicine
  26. TA
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    TA - May 01, 2012 5:53 pm
    For those who believe that the cause of every problem is spending too much on "entitlements", are you talking about social security and Medicare or are you only talking about the safety net programs like food stamps, unemployment insurance, and welfare? If you are only complaining about welfare then you are complaining about a small percent of Federal spending. To me, spending $800 billion per year on the military is obscene in light of the problems we face today.
  27. long time napan
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    long time napan - May 02, 2012 9:24 am
    TA....would you rather the fight be on our soil? Would you rather the forces at hand blow up the building you or your family works in?
  28. glenroy
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    glenroy - May 02, 2012 10:06 am
    Now why would they do that Napken?
    Think this through, if the provider cuts service fees then the patient doesn’t get the service…correct?
    For the sake of argument we’ll say that’s exactly what happens/happened….so the next year the provider loses their customers, then what? How do they replace the policyholder? Do you realize the cost to replace 100% of your book every year or so?

    Do you realize the cost QVH has to charge CAT/MIR's compared to nonER hospitals?

    This isn’t political science where opinions have little to do with cause and effect, this is simple pay attention to congressional mandates, how Medicare and soon Obamacare take our money and spend on their crony pals, phony management services, sticking the Hopistal...then add to everyone else with private insurance, everyone, me, wife, kids etc.

    All things government under liberalism is for the government and those who support liberalism, it’s the only way they stay in office, and employed for most of them.

  29. TA
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    TA - May 02, 2012 5:45 pm
    Long-timer, We have been spending $600-800 billion per year on the military for quite some time now. Great Britain, France, and Germany each spend $40-60 billion per year, yet I don't see them in any greater danger from terrorists than we are. Canada only spends $20 billion per year on the military. They would seem to be a ripe target for an invasion don't you think? These countries have many of the same freedoms that we do yet they are not driving themselves into debt with military spending to defend their way of life. Why are we so different? I'm much more afraid of a co-worker going postal than being attacked by foreign terrorists. I'm not saying that terrorists are not something to worry about, but I also don't see how spending almost a trillion dollars per year on the military is going to prevent a dozen terrorists from taking down a plane or shooting up a school.
  30. glenroy
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    glenroy - May 02, 2012 10:06 pm
    There is no doubt our allies ride our military coattails when it comes to their military spending…not one of our NATO allies could defend their national interests without relying our forces for logistics, ordinance and of course GPS… Obama’s wasted 150% of our current defensive budget every year since he took office pandering to his crony base. That alone would more than cover the less than 10 million who cannot afford healthcare coverage without ruining ours.
    Another big reason why hospitals with ER's are being crushed is Democrats have looted Medicare to prop up Obamacare, the Government Accountability Office all but called it an $8.5 billion dollar sham…. Democrats are scrambling to push parts (obamacare) scheduled to implement in the next few months until after the election…lovely way to run a country.
    Margret Thatcher said it best… ‘the problem with liberalism is it always runs out of other people’s money to spend…’ in this case it harms everyone but them.
  31. 5th Generation Napan
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    5th Generation Napan - May 03, 2012 12:27 pm
    The health care system will never be fixed until Politicians, Senators, Congressmen, and Federal Employees are made to be part of it! Then you'll see changes if they have to participate. I paid $75 for an X-Ray in Michigan and $900 for the same X-Ray at the Queen. I have more protection and recourse from getting ripped off by auto mechanics than the healthcare system. Go figure.
  32. vinegal6
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    vinegal6 - May 31, 2012 9:14 am
    Why did the Register take this off of the most commented list while people were still discussing?
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