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Brookdale Hospital axes 240

March 16, 2009 3:30:25 PM PDT
Brookdale Hospital in Brooklyn handed out 240 pink slips Monday morning to hospital employees, sparking fear that the hospital may be closing.The workers union, SEIU 1199, says the layoffs include workers, nurses and doctors.

The union says the layoffs were not expected, and that patient safety is being compromised.

The hospital blames the workforce reduction on the general economic downturn. The layoffs are in addition to hiring freezes.

Union officials fear that the layoffs mean hospital's future is bleak, but a spokesperson said there is no possibility that Brookdale will be closing.

"We have had to make adjustments to our staffing to meet current patient volume levels. Brookdale remains a busy and vibrant facility," Ole Pedersen wrote in an email to Eyewitness News.

The hospital released the following information:

"Facing an increased budget deficit primarily resulting from inadequate reimbursements, larger numbers of uninsured patients and unreasonable and well-documented abusive practices by a number of health insurers and managed care organizations, with little external relief expected, Brookdale University Hospital Medical Center has begun to implement a workforce reduction of 240 employees. The across the board cutbacks are in addition to freezes on already vacant positions and include both union and non-union, physicians and management staff members.

"The general economic downturn has not spared the community served by Brookdale Hospital. Recent reductions in Medicaid reimbursement under the State's Deficit Reduction Act have frozen inflation factors at a time when labor costs, pharmaceuticals, energy, and malpractice costs continue to escalate. Substantial additional cuts have been proposed as the State struggles to close its budget gap for the coming fiscal year. In addition, recent changes in patient care volume require us to restructure our workforce accordingly.

"The Medical Center regrets the impact of this restructuring on its affected employees."


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