GALVESTON COUNTY - UTMB Health is laying off 200 people across its four hospital locations in the Houston area amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.
Monday's announcement comes as UTMB officials say the hospital system tries to deal with a $174 million-dollar budget shortfall.
UTMB’s interim president Dr. Ben Raimer sent a notice out to its roughly 13,000 employees Monday afternoon, saying that 1.5% of its staff will now be laid off.
"As we look forward to next year, unless we take some pretty drastic measures right now, we will be in a $174 million hold," Raimer said during a Zoom interview.
For months, UTMB has searched for ways to cut back including asking employees to take weekly time off using vacation days and slashing bonuses for upper-level staff. Although it saved the hospital $11 million, Dr. Raimer says it still wasn’t enough.
"The bad news is we just couldn’t keep up with the increasing cost of operation due to COVID. Just the masks that we wear and the gowns that we wear, are costing us $45,000 a day," Dr. Raimer said.
The cuts will be made across the board at UTMB’s four hospital locations in League City, Angleton, Clear Lake, and Galveston.
According to Dr. Raimer,28 employees working in construction project management were already cut Monday and other departments expected to face layoffs are mostly support staff from facilities to records management.
However, UTMB says there will be no cuts to clinical, faculty or research employees.
"With all those hospitals, we want to put our best foot forward and preserve the patients that we have. Therefore, there will be no reductions in clinical staff. We are doing restructuring. I will restructure the president’s office so that we need fewer full-time equivalents. We'll have new faces and new duties assigned.
"We hire good people and we don’t want them to leave but these are catastrophic times for us. We need to get our feet back on the ground, build our financial reserves. We will need them in case there’s a storm," Dr. Raimer said.
UTMB officials say all employees who are laid off will be eligible to apply for another job internally within the UTMB system.
"We have pledged to all our employees that if they are separated, they will immediately go into a pool of employees for reemployment and jobs at UTMB that they are qualified for and that are currently available," Dr. Raimer said.
Those who live in the same household and work at UTMB, will not all be cut. Those factors will be taken into consideration, according to Dr. Raimer.
Although UTMB will be cutting 1.5% of its workforce, it will also be hiring additional nurses.