Reactivates ‘incident command system’ but denies it is turning away patients or rationing care
BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) — Three days after Joe Sluka resigned as president and CEO of St. Charles Health System, the organization announced it had terminated and eliminated two senior-level positions to reduce costs and reactivated its incident command system to deal with the continued impacts of COVID-19 on finances, patient capacity and staffing.
“As part of the ongoing financial recovery work of St. Charles Health System, two leadership positions have been eliminated,” the Friday statement said.
“The positions of Executive Vice President and Chief Medical Officer, currently held by Dr. Jeff Absalon, and Senior Vice President of Strategy, currently held by Rod Marchiando, have been reduced as a cost-saving measure. Both positions are members of the St. Charles Executive Care Team. Transition plans for their areas of responsibility are being developed with the goal of making the reductions effective by August 1.”
“I want to sincerely thank Jeff and Rod for their many contributions to St. Charles throughout their tenure,” said Dr. Steve Gordon, interim president and CEO of St. Charles. “These are talented executives who have dedicated years of their lives to improving the health care system. They care deeply about our caregivers, our patients and the communities we serve. They will be missed and we wish them the best for their future projects.
In response to a question from NewsChannel 21, St. Charles spokesperson Kayley Mendenhall confirmed that James Reedy, head nurse at St. Charles Redmond, had “resigned from his position after recently completing his doctorate in science nurses to pursue other opportunities”.
“It was not a layoff,” she added.
Hospital spokeswoman Lisa Goodman said the nonprofit health system has incurred losses totaling more than $40 million so far this year, a factor in May layoffs over of 100 non-medical staff and the elimination of 76 vacant posts.
Goodman said the hospital no longer plans widespread layoffs and is still trying to fill more than 400 vacancies.
Mendenhall also shared with NewsChannel 21 a clarifying statement St. Charles provided to the OPB after his article on St. Charles issues on Friday claimed that St. Charles patients “face rationed care.” due to the increase in COVID-19 cases related to the latest subvariant:
“We don’t turn away patients and we don’t ration care. Depending on a patient’s health care needs, we house them in our emergency department until a bed becomes available or we work with our community partners to place them in an appropriate facility. .
“Like other hospital systems across the state, we are at full capacity, although we continue to struggle with clinical staffing shortages. Earlier today, we activated our hospital incident command system to manage our large patient flow and workforce challenges.Our goals are to stabilize staff, manage our inpatient admissions and discharges, and ensure the safety of patients and caregivers.
“The issues we face are not unique to St. Charles. Every hospital in Oregon faces patient flow issues as there are not enough beds available due to labor shortages. “, a sustained increase in the number of COVID-19 patients and other factors. This is not a local problem, but prevalent across the state and beyond,” the statement concluded.
Asked about the Incident Command System, Mendenhall explained, “We were in a Hospital Incident Command Structure (HICS) for two years to manage our COVID response,” and it was deactivated on March 30 due to the improvement of the situation.
“That basically means we’re able to quickly marshal resources to deal with difficult situations,” she said. “We reactivated our hospital incident command system on Friday afternoon to manage the significant bed capacity and workforce shortages we are currently facing, like so many health systems across the state. “