Queen of the Valley to cut 111 jobs in Napa

[caption id="attachment_92987" align="alignnone" width="500"] Queen of the Valley's Synergy Medical Fitness Center, built several years ago and seen here in the facility virtual tour, is one of the five units set to be turned over to outside operators as part of significant cost-cutting measures announced May 27. (credit: Queen of the Valley Medical Center)[/caption]

NAPA -- Queen of the Valley Medical Center on Tuesday said it would cut about 111 jobs -- around 10 percent of its workforce -- at the 191-bed hospital while closing four outpatient units, citing the "rapid and historic transformation" of the health care industry.

In addition, the St. Joseph Health--owned hospital said five units of the facility will be outsourced and hours would be reduced for five positions.

"Cuts in federal and state funding, legislative policy and health care reform compel us to take action to further strengthen our hospital in order to ensure we are positioned to continue serving our communities well into the future with the high-quality and compassionate care that has always defined us," Walt Mickens, president and CEO, said in a statement. "We are making changes now so we may respond proactively and affirmatively to these challenges."

In California, hospitals anticipate $23 billion in payment cuts from the Medicare program between 2014 and 2023, mostly due to changes brought on by the Affordable Care Act. At Queen of the Valley, that amounts to $75 million in payment cuts, officials said.

Additionally, increased competition from Kaiser Permanente is squeezing Queen of the Valley, having successfully enrolled more Napa County residents and businesses in health plans offered through Covered California, according to spokeswoman Vanessa deGier. Kaiser has approximately 50,000 insured residents in Napa County, which accounts for nearly a third of all insured residents in the county of roughly 140,000 people, Ms. deGier said.

In an attempt to recapture some of that immediate market share, Queen of the Valley and St. Joseph Health have partnered with Western Health Advantage, a Sacramento-based HMO that is offering plans to businesses and through Covered California. But it's too early to see any definitive gains from the partnership, Ms. deGier said, although in recent months enrollment in Western Health was starting to increase.

"We really feel the move from employers when they choose a health plan because it's cheaper, and that's why we started the partnership with Western Health Advantage," she said. "Ninety-six percent of people were choosing Kaiser or Blue Cross, but in the last month, we have really seen an uptick."

Queen of the Valley is far from alone among hospitals grappling with the reform-driven landscape, although it goes beyond just the Affordable Care Act, said Mark Knight, a health care consultant in Santa Rosa.

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