CHI St. Vincent Lays Off 91 in Arkansas

Catholic Health Initiatives of Englewood, Colorado, and its affiliate, St. Vincent Health System in Little Rock, have announced the layoff of 91 employees from its operations in Arkansas.

Seventy-four employees will be laid off from its hospital in Hot Springs, 14 total in its hospitals in Little Rock and North Little Rock and three from its Morrilton location, Peter Banko, president and CEO, told Arkansas Business Thursday afternoon. But he said some of the people who were laid off were offered other positions in St. Vincent, and he didn't know Thursday how many would stay with the health system.

Banko said the layoffs were brought on after CHI's purchase in April of the 282-bed Mercy Hot Springs hospital and physician clinic.

"We had two of some functions and we went to one for the system," Banko said.

He said the move was done to create one Arkansas system for CHI St. Vincent.

"And also given the financial struggles in Hot Springs as well as Little Rock to get us on better financial footing," he said.

"Today is a very difficult day for our ministry and our first task is to support those co-workers that are leaving us because our decisions are impacting good people and their families," Banko said in a press release.

The laid-off workers mainly worked in "back office support functions" and won't impact health care at St. Vincent's hospitals, Banko said. CHI said impacted workers at the Hot Springs hospital will follow Mercy's severance policy while impacted workers at other locations will follow CHI St. Vincent's severance policy.

In addition to the layoffs, another 66 positions that had been vacant since May 1 were eliminated. The move will save St. Vincent about $9 million annually, Banko said.

St. Vincent has about 4,500 workers in Arkansas.

Banko said he doesn't anticipate any further layoffs. The next move will focus on growth at Hot Springs and elsewhere.

He said he wants to grow cardiology and cancer treatment services at CHI St. Vincent Hot Springs. Banko talked in detail about future plans for St. Vincent in April.