Mercy Medical Center to lay off staff, interpreters

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WGGB/WSHM) – Mercy Medical Center is laying off some of its staff, including language interpreters. This comes at a time when hospitalizations locally are increasing among rising COVID-19 case numbers.

A spokesperson for Mercy Medical Center attributed the layoffs to changing health care delivery and the COVID-19 pandemic.

Officials cited a national disruption to the healthcare industry. They said the pandemic has impacted traditional hospital services as less patients have been using them.

They went on to tell us that the industry has experienced national and regional staffing shortages, as well as higher prices on supplies.

Mercy spokesperson Mary Orr provided a statement to Western Mass News that read in part, quote:

“We have announced Trinity Health Of New England will adjust workforce levels and other non-labor expenses to address the profound impact the COVID-19 pandemic has had on revenue and the way in which healthcare is delivered. After a careful and thoughtful analysis, Trinity Health of New England will reduce positions, many of which are currently vacant. There will be some colleagues who will experience a transition, including severances.”

The Massachusetts Nurses Association told us that 12 of their 380 nurses at Mercy are included in the layoffs. Members also told us that besides nurses, ancillary staff including secretaries and interpreter services are being cut.

Spokesperson Joe Markman told Western Mass News that the union is concerned about this announcement and the impact it will have on patients, nurses, and other health care workers. In a statement, he said in part, quote:

“Due to the pandemic and the effects of deferred care, there is a high volume and acuity of patients at Mercy and elsewhere in the region. This is not time to cut staff. Hospital owner Trinity Health should be investing in its local healthcare workforce to make sure patients get the care they DEserve. Trinity is a large, profitable organization nationwide and can afford to invest in local care.”

A member of the union at Mercy spoke with Western Mass News, saying she disagrees with the move.

“Decisions like this that cut services that you know, ultimately will have a negative effect on this community, obviously are not being made by individuals who live and work in this community or receive their healthcare in this community,” said registered nurse Diana Doyle.

She said many of the interpreters she knows at Mercy that were let go were Spanish interpreters, which are greatly needed in the community as Springfield has a big Spanish-speaking population. Doyle said it will have a negative impact on communicating with patients.

Mercy officials told us people who have been laid off will be eligible for a paid notice period, as well as benefits through their severance period.

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