Officials with Eastern Health confirmed last week that more than three dozen full-time equivalent (FTE) positions will be cut at its facilities in Carbonear, and an under-used 22-bed wing at the Harbour Lodge Nursing Home will also be closed at the end of this month.
The measures are part of an earlier announcement by the St. John's-based health authority to cut 550 FTE jobs from its ranks over the next two years in order to become more efficient and put a stop to repeated deficits in recent years.
No permanent employee will be laid off as a result of the cuts, officials have stated. Should an employee's permanent position be impacted by any initiative, the employee will be redeployed to another program or service area.
In Carbonear, Eastern Health will eliminate 37 full-time equivalent positions at the Carbonear General Hospital, Interfaith Citizens Home, and the Harbour Lodge Nursing Home.
"The plan is to eliminate the 37 FTEs by reducing constant care, reducing extra workload and overtime, realigning hours of care and realigning support services," an Eastern Health spokesperson wrote in an email to The Compass.
The groups that will be affected by these changes are corporate support services and staff who have hands-on patient responsibility, like nurses (RNs), licensed practical nurses (LPNs) and personal care attendants (PCAs).
Eastern Health will use attrition to achieve most of the identified reduction in FTEs. Attrition is a gradual, voluntary reduction of employees - through resignation and retirement - who are not replaced, resulting in an overall decrease in the size of the workforce. More than 1,000 people retired from Eastern Health last year.
Eastern Health hopes to eliminate 385 positions through attrition during the next couple of years, and the remainder of the job cuts will come from full time equivalent positions. FTE is a measure used by organizations not to count actual people but to count positions. This means that FTE is a measure used to count hours of work equivalent to a full-time position.
"While there will be positions eliminated from the organization, the permanent employees in those positions will be redeployed to other areas of the organization until attrition is achieved," the email stated.
Temporary employees will maintain their positions. However, hours of work will be reduced. Eastern Health will work to minimize the impact on individual temporary employees as best as it can, the official explained.
The Harbour Lodge Nursing Home, meanwhile, is located on Highroad South, and has a bed capacity of 105. Services offered at the facility include nursing, medical, social work, recreation, dietary, housekeeping, occupational therapy, physiotherapy, and beautician services.
The facility opened in 1971, and was expanded in 1990. Tbe Harbour Lodge and the Interfaith Home, along with the Pentecostal Home in Clarke's Beach, are all slated for closure in the coming years. They will be replaced by a new 250-bed long-term care facility that is currently under construction in Carbonear.
Harbour Lodge consists of three wings - West Wing has 22 beds, of which seven are currently occupied; East Wing 1 (dementia) has 41 beds, of which 34 are occupied; and East Wing 2 has 42 beds, of which 40 are occupied.
According to Eastern Health, the West Wing has not operated at full capacity for nearly five years. As such, Eastern Health will close the West Wing as part of its initiatives to improve operations.
"Eastern Health has communicated this change to residents, their families and staff, where it is anticipated that the West Wing will close at the end of June, or until all residents have successfully been placed."
Eastern Health said residents of this wing will not have to move to another community, unless they wish to.
Once the changes have been implemented, Harbour Lodge will have an 83-bed capacity.
"Eastern Health is pleased to report that residents and their families understood the reason for the move, and appreciated the fact that residents have the option to relocate to their home of choice," the statement read.
Eastern Health again emphasized that the these cuts will not have an impact on the quality and safety of the care it provides.