Layoffs at St. Mary-Corwin Medical Center hit employees, Pueblo hard

Posted at 10:32 PM, Mar 08, 2018
and last updated 2018-03-09 00:32:43-05

A little fewer than 300 employees at St. Mary-Corwin Medical Center left work Thursday night, asking the same questions as Telemetry Nurse Carmen Perez.

"What are we going to do for our kids? What do you tell your kids when they want something and say, sorry, we don’t have funds for that." 

Thursday afternoon CEO Mike Cafasso announced layoffs and the closure of the medical surgery unit, telemetry unit and a reduced intensive care unit at St. Mary-Corwin Medical Center in Pueblo. The layoffs also impacted senior level leaders at the hospital.

"This has never been about the quality of care that we offer here, this has strictly been a financial challenge for healthcare in general," Cafasso said.

Cafasso said the hospital will focus on core strengths in cancer care, orthopedics, re-imagined primary care services.  He said the primary reason behind the decision is business conditions in the healthcare industry and reimbursement rates from insurance and providers.

For Perez, that was little comfort to her, who’s not only worried about her own financial situation. She said she’s also worried about the availability of healthcare for people living in Pueblo.

"We were a charity hospital. Where’s the compassionate people?" Perez asked. "Doctors took the oath to help people. Not to kill them. And that’s what they’re doing now."

Parkview Medical Center, the only other hospital in Pueblo, characterized the move as devastating for the community of Pueblo, saying in a statement: "It abandons Puebloans in need of critical care and puts additional pressure not only on Parkview Medical Center but other regional health care facilities, many of which are at capacity today," the statement read.

In October, St. Mary-Corwin announced it was closing its birthing center due to financial reasons, which prompted Parkview Medical Center to add more resources to handle extra patients then. 

St. Mary-Corwin will only have 42 patient beds available when the layoffs take place, down from the current total of 114. In addition to the changes, St. Mary-Corwin also announced renovations to old buildings on campus or adding new ones, something Perez said she was confused by. 

"My question is, if you’re gonna renovate, where’s that money coming from is we’re losing our jobs?" She asked.

Before the cuts, the hospital employed a total of 800 full time staff and an estimated 100 part time employees. Employees who were affected were offered severance packages and job placement services.

They were told their last day will be May 1.