Washington Hospital blames Affordable Care Act for 31 layoffs

FREMONT, Calif. (KGO) -- On Wednesday, 31 employees at Washington Hospital in Fremont were laid off. The hospital has been struggling financially and blames the Affordable Care Act and significant reductions in Medicare for the layoffs.

Hospitals across the nation have been complaining about Medicare reimbursements, but for a hospital to say they're cutting simply because of the Affordable Care Act, we simply haven't heard that before.

Following a major financial overhaul, Washington Hospital will soon operate with 244 fewer employees. There are 196 people, or 12 percent of the staff, that left this year voluntarily because they found another job or simply left. Another 17 employees, or 1 percent of the staff, retired voluntarily after they were offered a severance package. The 31 people who were laid off Wednesday make up 2 percent of the employees at the hospital. That adds up to 244 positions that, according to the hospital, will simply go away -- they will not be replaced.

Sandi Van Brocklin is a clerk in the emergency room. She says, "And that is going to hurt everybody else in the long run because right now we don't have enough people to manage all the call lights that go off when a patient calls. Somebody has to respond and it's not always the nurse because now the staffing ratios have changed.

The hospital has been operating since 1958 and recently it's been having some financial struggles. They blame the Affordable Care Act and lower Medicare reimbursements.

Washington Hospital told ABC7 News: "We were experiencing much lower volumes of patients in addition to being paid a great deal less."

Van Brocklin admits many hospitals are facing the same financial struggles. She said, "I want to continue working. I've been here for a long time and I want to stay. I don't want to move on."

While positions were eliminated, no one's salary was cut.
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