Troubled Economy Prompts Difficult Decisions at Alegent Health
Release Date: 01/21/2009

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OMAHA, Neb. – Alegent Health, like many organizations, is feeling the effects of the national recession, the likes of which this country has not seen in decades. These difficult times have led to difficult decisions that we believe will position us for a strong future.

“We’ve been seeing the signs of a gathering storm in healthcare for several years,” said Alegent Health Chief Executive Officer, Wayne Sensor. A series of forces are threatening the sustainability of our nation’s healthcare system - rising costs, the growing number of uninsured, leading to an increased need for charity care, and the looming shortage of healthcare professionals. These are being exacerbated by an economic downturn that happened incredibly fast, shaking the confidence of every American and businesses across the country.

“Alegent Health is in a much better place than most organizations,” explained Sensor. “We are financially strong and viable but we recognize that we need to make some changes to ensure that we stay that way during and after these uncertain times.”

Alegent Health announced plans today that will position the organization to continue its 120 year-old Mission well into the future. “Our goal is to care for the people of our community ‘body, mind and spirit,’” said Sensor. “To do that, we must make difficult decisions from a position of strength.”

Difficult Decisions

Effective immediately, Alegent Health will make the following bold moves:
  • Reduce the Alegent Health management team by 10% or 40 positions and eliminate seven vice president positions.

  • All senior leadership at Alegent Health will take a voluntary 10% reduction in compensation as a demonstration of our commitment to our community, patients and families that above all, we will put the needs of our patients first.

  • We will continue to identify areas where we can reduce discretionary expenses..

  • In an effort to operate more efficiently, we are reducing duplication of efforts, streamlining services, and evaluating a number of departments for consolidation or elimination.

  • Alegent Health will adopt new productivity standards that will result in a reduction of 245 full-time positions by March 3. This will have little effect on positions which provide direct patient care.
While staff reductions are never easy, and the decisions are never made lightly, it is important to note that, Alegent Health will remain more than 9,000 employees strong, with a payroll of about $375 million. What Alegent Health will not do is compromise the high quality of care that our patients and families receive, or our commitment to this community. “We understand that budgets are tight. We are seeing increasing requests for help with medical bills. Our charity care is up over last year so we know that the economic crisis is hitting locally just as it is nationally,” said Sensor.

In 2008, Alegent Health’s community benefit, which includes $26 million in medical care to the poor and underserved, amounted to $80.5 million dollars. In addition, Alegent Health is investing $350 million in the community through facility upgrades, renovations and additions. Sensor says those projects, which will improve care and services for the organization and our patients, will continue on schedule.

Alegent Health remains committed to the health and future of our community. “In continuation of our 120-year old ministry, I am confident that Alegent Health will remain strong and viable to serve the people of our community well into the future,” said Sensor.

About Alegent Health

Alegent Health is the largest not-for-profit, faith-based healthcare system in Nebraska and southwestern Iowa with nine acute care hospitals, more than 100 sites of service, over 1,300 physicians on its medical staff and more than 9,000 employees. Alegent Health is ranked first in the country in quality and patient satisfaction according to the Network for Regional healthcare Improvement (NRHI). That exceptional commitment to providing patient focused care for the body, mind and spirit of every person keeps Alegent Health faithful to its Mission, which was inspired by its sponsors, Catholic Health Initiatives and Immanuel Health Systems. At Alegent Health, patients and their families find a continuum of care, from women's and children's services, primary care, wellness counseling, and senior care to cardiovascular services, orthopaedics, oncology, physical rehabilitation and behavioral health. Alegent Health is online at www.alegent.com.