Dartmouth Health lays off 75 workers, eliminates 100 open positions

Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center welcomed guests to a ribbon cutting for its new $150 million, 240,000 square foot Patient Pavilion in Lebanon, N.H., on Friday, April 14, 2023. The building will open in May and house intensive care, heart and vascular care and medical specialty care units. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center welcomed guests to a ribbon cutting for its new $150 million, 240,000 square foot Patient Pavilion in Lebanon, N.H., on Friday, April 14, 2023. The building will open in May and house intensive care, heart and vascular care and medical specialty care units. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. James M. Patterson

By NORA DOYLE-BURR

Valley News Staff Writer

Published: 06-08-2023 8:01 PM

LEBANON — As part of a restructuring effort to address a budget deficit, Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center and Dartmouth Hitchcock Clinics are laying off 75 workers and eliminating about 100 vacant positions, according to a message Dartmouth Health’s CEO sent to employees on Thursday.

Most of those affected were notified on Thursday, DH CEO Joanne Conroy wrote in her message.

“Despite the significant performance improvement efforts taking place across the organization, Dartmouth Hitchcock is still facing substantial financial and operational pressures,” Conroy wrote. “These pressures require thoughtful and clear action to create the long-term sustainability that will allow us to deliver on our mission, now and into the future.”

Overall, DH has about 10,000 employees.

In a January email to employees, DH officials said they were looking to close a $120 million budget gap by the end of September. That process, part of a performance improvement plan first initiated last November, has involved an initial hiring freeze and then a hiring review by the Position Control Review and Clinical Workforce Committees.

DH’s most recent financial statement showed signs that it may be beginning to turn a corner, but the health network was still losing money. In the month of March, DH posted a positive margin — 1.9% — for the month for the first time since fall 2021.

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The loss for the quarter ending March 31 was $15.1 million, equivalent to about 2% of DH’s revenue, according to a late May filing. That was better than the $36.6 million loss in the preceding quarter, which ended Dec. 31, 2022, and less than the $25.9 million loss during the same quarter last fiscal year.

The pressures DH is facing, which officials have said include a workforce shortage and difficulties discharging patients to other facilities in a timely manner, are not unique to the organization, Audra Burns, a DH spokeswoman, said in a Thursday email.

“We are committed to overcoming these complicated and systemic challenges, but thoughtful and clear action was necessary to evolve and operate more efficiently while maintaining the delivery of high-quality, world-class care to the community,” Burns said.

In her Thursday email, Conroy said that the decisions as to which positions to eliminate were based not on the individuals in those roles, but on the roles within the organization.

DH worked with an “external partner” to make recommendations around size, leadership to employee ratios, as well as ways to “operate more efficiently while maintaining the delivery of our high-quality, world-class care to our community,” Conroy wrote.

“The restructure is designed to make the greatest strategic impact with the fewest reductions,” she wrote. “Maintaining frontline clinical staff remains a top priority.”

Nora Doyle-Burr can be reached at ndoyleburr@vnews.com or 603-727-3213.