Briefcase Departments

Briefcase

Baystate Health Laying Off 300

SPRINGFIELD — In a memo to employees, Baystate Health President and CEO Dr. Mark Keroack announced the elimination of 300 positions from among the system’s 12,500 employees, citing a budget gap of $75 million for the fiscal year beginning Oct. 1, 2016. “Many factors are causing this projected shortfall, most significantly the continuing shortfalls in the reimbursements we receive for providing Medicaid services,” Keroack said. “Other factors are also contributing to this challenge, most prominently the recent decision by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services not to accept corrected wage data resulting in $23 million in reduced Medicare reimbursements next year, as well as increased spending on wages and benefits, pharmaceutical costs, and malpractice insurance.” He explained that Baystate’s leadership team has identified almost $40 million in strategies to mitigate these impacts and reduce the budget gap to about $35 million, but workforce cuts are necessary to further trim the deficit. “We expect that these reductions will affect management as well as front-line team members, prioritizing non-clinical areas for reductions, and most importantly preserving the quality and safety of the care we provide,” he wrote. “We expect the majority of these reductions will take place in Springfield-based operations, but we anticipate some impact throughout many parts of Baystate Health. As we know more specifics about impact on teams and individuals, we will share them.” Employees affected by the cuts will have access to severance pay and Baystate Health’s workforce placement and transition services, and may apply for open positions of critical need in the system. “Even after these painful steps, we expect to face a remaining budget gap of $15 million. We’ll continue our work to address this gap and do all we can to preserve jobs,” Keroack noted. “Our leadership has worked hard, as our financial challenges have mounted in recent months, to minimize the impact of these challenges. We are doing everything we can to help our elected leaders change some of the long-standing disparities in Medicaid reimbursement between different provider organizations in Massachusetts, which have been a major driver of our current difficulties.”

GCC Survey Uncovers What Employers Look for

GREENFIELD — What skills and knowledge do Pioneer Valley employers look for in their recent hires? That was the focus of a spring 2016 survey conducted by Greenfield Community College (GCC). More than 125 businesses, municipalities, nonprofit organizations, and schools weighed in on the college-learning outcomes they value the most. The survey, modeled after a national study conducted by Hart Research Associates on behalf of the Assoc. of American Colleges & Universities (AAC&U), was sent to Pioneer Valley employers on the member lists of the Franklin County, Greater Northampton, and Amherst Area chambers of commerce. It presented 17 distinct skill and knowledge areas and asked respondents to indicate how important it is that the new college graduates they employ exhibit proficiency in each. Among the results, at least four out of five respondents said they want new hires to have the ability to effectively communicate orally, ethical judgment and decision making, the ability to work effectively with others in teams, the ability to apply knowledge and skills to real-world settings, and critical-thinking and analytical-reasoning skills. Employers, both large and small, report placing high value on these skills when hiring recent college graduates. Recently, GCC students participated in the national Community College Survey of Student Engagement and were asked how much their experience at the college has contributed to their knowledge, skills, and personal development in a number of areas similar to those on the employer survey. A majority of respondents indicated that their time at GCC has contributed “quite a bit” or “very much” to their abilities to write and speak clearly and effectively, think critically and analytically, and work effectively with others. Marie Breheny, GCC’s director of Assessment, noted that “the findings from this local survey of Pioneer Valley employers were very similar to those obtained through the AAC&U’s larger effort. The ongoing national debate about the purpose of a college education is often presented in terms of conflicting viewpoints, with some believing that college is primarily for the development of a person and others believing that it is primarily to get a job. Following from that argument are questions about the value of various courses of study. The results from these surveys show no such conflict, as the outcomes from a broad education that that contribute to the development of a well-rounded individual are also highly valued by employers. In short, a liberal-arts education that fosters communication, ethics, critical thinking, teamwork, and the application of knowledge to real-world settings prepares students for success in employment and success in life.” Added GCC President Bob Pura, “Greenfield Community College thanks employers in the Pioneer Valley for their participation in this effort. Input such as this helps the college understand how issues in higher education that garner national attention play out at the local level. GCC will use this information to inform its programming and planning so as to best serve students while being responsive to the needs of area employers and the community.”

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