One of the nation’s top cancer hospitals is cutting down its staff. The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, ranked the top in the country by U.S. News and World Report, will cut staffing by about five percent, a reduction of nearly 1,000 workers. Ronald DePinho, president of the center, announced the cuts Thursday morning, citing a recommendation from the center’s Shared Governance Committee.
“I can assure you, during the last several months, and more recently during the decision-making process, great effort and compassion have gone into exploring all options to make sustainable changes and to avoid impacting our treasured colleagues,” DePinho said via the announcement. “Great improvements have been made through this committed effort, but more must be done in our overall strategy to align expenses to revenues.”
Escalating healthcare costs, reduction in reimbursements and expanding needs for an aging population have necessitated moves to improve patient care while reducing costs of delivery, DePinho said. Electronic record systems have been pursued to streamline care and eliminate unnecessary testing and other services. While years of planning and increased staffing helped the center launch its system in March, further optimization is necessary in order to realize productivity gains, he said.
Media outlets have reported that the system, in addition to other factors such as healthcare costs and reimbursements, led to a loss of more than $100 million from September through November. It has also been reported that the center has nearly $3 billion in reserves. The cuts will reportedly save the hospital $120 million.
Sought for additional comment on the nature of the cuts and the center’s finances, a spokesperson provided a statement echoing many of DePinho’s points. “MD Anderson’s position as the world’s most impactful cancer center is built on the excellence of our people, so this is a sobering day,” according to the spokesperson’s statement. “Physicians will not be impacted by the reduction, which will allow MD Anderson to continue providing exceptional patient care and decisive research. Our top priority remains our patients who are counting on us to save their lives.”
The health and care of patients of the center, based in Houston, are not expected to be impacted. DePinho said that the center is currently in the process of innovating delivery methods, adopting new technologies and diversifying its revenue streams in an effort to bolster its finances.
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