OHSU Mulls Job Cuts Amid “Challenging” Health Care Environment

“Reductions in force may be necessary” as the academic medical center cuts costs.

Oregon Health & Science University. (Brian Burk)

Leaders at Oregon Health & Science University warned staff in an email that job cuts may be coming as they look for ways to cut costs in an “evolving health care landscape that is more challenging than ever.”

This month and next, “select senior leaders” at OHSU will complete an audit of all expenses, projects and roles, the email, obtained by WW, says. The executive leadership team will use the results to determine “next steps.”

The email was signed by OHSU president Danny Jacobs and the executive vice presidents who serve just under him. Brian Druker, chief executive of the OHSU Knight Cancer Institute, and Jill Eiland, interim president of the OHSU Foundation, also signed.

“To succeed, our structures and budgets must align with our overall strategy like never before,” the OHSU leaders said in the email. “Although reductions in force may be necessary, the intent of this work is to shift our overall strategy to ensure the highest and best use of the services that distinguish OHSU from others and on which Oregon depends.”

The email comes five months after OHSU granted $15 million in non-merit-based bonuses to nonunion staff, a move that prompted a petition by unionized workers. Shortly after that protest, OHSU scrubbed plans to include top executives in that bonus pool, saying that the money had run out.

“OHSU continues to navigate an evolving and challenging health care landscape,” OHSU said in a statement to WW. “Although our patient care mission is growing, costs continue to outpace revenues, particularly in wages and benefits.”

In January, OHSU reported a loss of $26 million in the six-month period that ended Dec. 31, hurt in some part by that bonus package. Despite the losses, OHSU as of last month was still working to take over rival Legacy Health to form the largest employer in the Portland metro area.

During the “strategic alignment initiative” announced today, OSHU leaders said they would “continue to communicate changes widely with transparency” and would “embrace change, and question and alter norms that hinder our progress.” The university also vowed to “embrace choices anchored in excellence.”

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