Baystate Announces Workforce Reduction
SPRINGFIELD — Baystate Health recently announced a reduction in its workforce in response to current fiscal challenges and changes in the provision of health care. On June 4, 24 Baystate employees received notifications that their employment in their current positions will end in 30 days, and 17 employees are seeing their hours reduced. An additional 45 open positions at Baystate Health are being eliminated, effective immediately. Driving the decision to eliminate these positions is a current budget shortfall, across Baystate Health, of about $22 million. The shortfall represents the difference between Baystate Health’s budget for the year — the financial performance required to enable the organization to re-invest in its services, facilities and technology in the coming year — and current projections for its yearly financial results. All the affected positions are Springfield-based, mainly at Baystate Medical Center. No bedside nurses or physicians are losing their employment. The jobs include management positions. “We take any decision to end any person’s employment very seriously, and we regret the necessity of it,” said Nancy Shendell-Falik, chief operating officer of Baystate Medical Center. “We will do everything possible to help those affected find new opportunities, either within or outside Baystate Health.” Affected employees will receive severance pay and extension of benefits in accordance with their tenure of service, and job placement assistance. Baystate’s actions are part of a multi-faceted effort to reduce costs and return the system to its budgeted operating margin, including work underway in supply chain, process improvement, energy efficiency and other areas. Every dollar of positive margin at the end of a fiscal year is re-invested into Baystate’s facilities, technology, programs and services. Improvements such as the renovation of operating rooms at Baystate Franklin Medical Center and construction of the MassMutual Wing and Davis Family Heart & Vascular Center at Baystate Medical Center, as well new clinical technologies and equipment and the development of new clinical programs, are funded primarily by that margin. “Like many healthcare providers, we are facing a need to adjust our human, material and financial resources to adapt to the rapidly changing healthcare environment,” said Shendell-Falik. “Difficult decisions such as these make it possible for us to continue to invest in the services we’re able to provide our patients, whether it’s a new program, a new or renovated facility, surgical supplies or a CT scanner.” Baystate Medical Center is one of the largest providers of Medicaid services in Massachusetts, and provided more than $112 million in unreimbursed care in 2014. “We are committed to providing these services in line with our charitable mission; unfortunately the reimbursements we receive for providing Medicaid services are well short of our costs, typically between 70 and 80 cents on the dollar,” said Shendell-Falik. Baystate Medical Center remains the lowest-cost teaching hospital in Massachusetts.
MBA, Five Banks Launch ‘Common Cents’ Program
BOSTON — The Mass. Bankers Assoc. (MBA) and five banks, including Holyoke-based PeoplesBank, have launched Common Cents, a financial-education competition with participating high-school students from around the state. The program is featured online at www.masscommoncents.com. Recorded last autumn, Common Cents is a quiz-show competition hosted by the MBA and the five bank partners located around the Bay State: Bank of America, BayCoast Bank, Cape Cod Five Cents Savings Bank, PeoplesBank, and the Savings Bank. The 80 high-schoolers compete for prizes and learn about important financial-education concepts and practices along the way. The schools include Barnstable High School, Barnstable; Madison Park High School, Boston; Chicopee Comprehensive High School, Chicopee; Chicopee High School, Chicopee; Lynnfield High School, Lynnfield; Natick High School, Natick; Gateway to College Program, Fall River; Dennis-Yarmouth Regional High School, South Yarmouth; and Wakefield High School, Wakefield. Common Cents is being introduced to every Massachusetts high school with a guide and special classroom instructions that can also be found on the website. In addition, a video of the program has been sent to public-access television stations across the Commonwealth, encouraging both students and the general public to engage and embrace the important financial information highlighted in the competition. The 2015 Common Cents program, the third of its kind, was produced in support of the Financial Literacy Pilot Program established by the Massachusetts Legislature in 2012. This three-year pilot in 10 high schools in gateway cities throughout the Commonwealth is designed to test the potential viability of installing required financial-education programs in all Massachusetts high schools. Hosted by New England Cable News anchor Latoyia Edwards, radio celebrity Ashlee Feldman of JAM’N 94.5, and financial expert Jeffrey Fuhrer, executive vice president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, the program also features a special guest appearance by former New England Patriot Jermaine Wiggins. For more information and to view the program, visit www.masscommoncents.com.
Dowd Holds Open House at Renovated Location
INDIAN ORCHARD — The Dowd Insurance Agencies staged an open house to celebrate its newly renovated space on Main Street in Indian Orchard on May 20. The open house featured a ribbon cutting with the Affiliated Chambers of Commerce of Greater Springfield (ACCGS) and provided customers and neighbors the opportunity to tour the new office space. Moskal-Dowd and Orchard-Dowd recently moved to 485 Main St., Indian Orchard, to provide more services under one roof. Moskal-Dowd was originally acquired by the Dowd Insurance Agencies in 2009; Orchard-Dowd was acquired in early 2014. The new location offers easier access to agents in one convenient location. “In an era when online and 800-number agencies proliferate, we remain what we have been since 1898: a community-based company committed to insurance professionalism with local service,” said John Dowd Jr., president and CEO of the Dowd Insurance Agencies. “Our new facility will allow us to provide more personalized attention to our valued customers.” The benefits of the new office include ample parking, a large conference room for meetings, and, most important, a larger staff to provide customers a broader range of service. Services available at the new Indian Orchard location include personal insurance, including auto, homeowner, boat, RV, and umbrella insurance; commercial insurance for businesses of all sizes; and life insurance and employee benefits.
Baystate Announces Leadership Changes After Bradley Steps Down
GREENFIELD — Dennis Chalke, senior vice president of Community Hospitals for Baystate Health, announced that Steven Bradley, president of Baystate Franklin Medical Center (BFMC) and Baystate Health’s Northern Region, is stepping down from his position to deal with unexpected and urgent family-related issues. Dr. Thomas Higgins, chief medical officer of BFMC and the Northern Region, will take on the additional role of interim president of the hospital and the region, effective immediately. “Steven played a major role in moving forward BFMC’s project to modernize and renovate its operating rooms, and over the years strengthened Baystate Health’s relationships with many community-based organizations. We thank him for those contributions, and we wish him well in his future endeavors,” said Chalke. In his prior role at Baystate Health, as vice president of Government and Community Relations and Public Affairs, Bradley was a crucial contributor to Baystate’s work to bring healthcare out of the hospital and into the community, advocating for social justice and public health and partnering with community-based organizations across Western Mass. Higgins is a graduate of Boston University with a bachelor’s degree in medical science; he continued at BU to earn his medical degree. He completed his internship and residency in internal medicine at the Cleveland Clinic. He completed a residency in anesthesiology, was chief resident, and completed a fellowship in critical care at Massachusetts General Hospital. He also earned an MBA at the Isenberg School of Management at UMass Amherst. Higgins joined Baystate Health in 1996 as chief of Baystate Medical Center’s Critical Care Division. Since 2012, he has served as vice chair for Clinical Affairs in the Department of Medicine and as interim chief in the Division of General Medicine/Community Health. He is a professor of Medicine, Surgery, and Anesthesiology at Tufts University School of Medicine. “Serving as the chief medical officer for BFMC and the Northern Region — and seeing for myself the ways a community hospital can influence a community’s health — has inspired me,” Higgins said. “I’m eager to accept this new challenge and continue the work of advancing our mission in Franklin County.”
UMass System Issues Faculty Awards Totaling $1.17 Million
BOSTON — Describing faculty research and scholarship as work that “distinguishes us as a university and is essential to our quest for a better and richer future,” UMass President Robert Caret announced the awarding of $1.17 million in grants to faculty members. The awards will fund work ranging from a project that will see faculty members engage with industry partners in the development of a big-data research center in Amherst, to a project aimed at bringing local history to life for Lawrence school children. Caret made the announcement as the board of trustees’ committee on academic and student affairs held its quarterly meeting in Boston. The grants are being made available via two programs established to spur research, scholarship, and outreach throughout the UMass system. The President’s Science and Technology Initiative Fund this year is awarding $914,000 to support nine promising research projects. Including this year’s awards, this fund, created in 2004, has provided $11 million in funding for nearly 90 projects that have helped to accelerate research on all five UMass campuses. The UMass presidential funding has helped to attract more than $245 million in federal and private funding. The President’s Creative Economy Initiatives Fund this year provides nearly $260,000 for nine projects aimed at enhancing the quality of life in communities across the Commonwealth. Including this year’s awards, the fund has, since 2007, distributed more than $2 million for 82 projects and has contributed to historical preservation, artisan cooperatives, music, theater, and many other projects. Trustee Alyce Lee, chair of the Committee on Academic and Student Affairs, said both programs support the trustees’ strategic priority of strengthening the university’s research enterprise and “contribute to the economic and social well-being of the Commonwealth.”