More than two dozen salaried management workers at Meadville Medical Center are eligible for a voluntary early retirement program, but its details and potential financial impact on the hospital aren’t being released yet.

The program is aimed at salaried medical center employees who are contemplating retirement now and those who may be considering it in the next few years. Employees have until late May to decide.

“There are 25 eligible, but we do not know whether they will all do it,” said Dr. Barry Bittman, the medical center’s chief innovations officer. “It’s just an option.”

There are specific age and years of service requirements for eligibility, but Bittman declined to release those numbers.

How much the package is expected save the medical center isn’t being released at this time, Bittman said.

“I can’t go there, but everyone probably won’t take it,” he said. “Initially this will cost money, but we don’t know how much. We will once they make their individual decisions. It will cost us more in the short run.”

Those eligible for the program have been informed and have approximately 60 days from now to decide whether to take the retirement package, Bittman said.

“We’ll be prepared to discuss it in detail once people have made their decisions,” Bittman said. “This isn’t mandatory. It’s possible people may not accept it.”

“Absolutely not,” Bittman responded when asked if any management cuts would be made if not enough of the 25 eligible managers opt to take early retirement.

A plan to possibly reduce management staff has been studied since the hospital’s fiscal year began back on July 1, he said.

“This doesn’t reflect a sudden change,” he said. “It’s not a knee-jerk reaction.”

The hospital continuously looks at reorganizing its management staff to better serve the community, Bittman said. Patients will see no difference, he added.

“There will be no lapse in service or care to the community — we assure you of that,” Bittman said.

Depending on which management employees may opt for early retirement, duties may shift to other managers or the management position vacated may be filled, he said.

“At the end of May we’ll know,” he said.

From a financial perspective, the medical center constantly strives to ensure fiscal responsibility at every level, according to David Poland, its financial officer.

“Despite extraordinary financial challenges that are presently impacting practically every aspect of our economy, I am pleased to report that MMC continues to remain efficient and financially stable,” Poland said in a statement.

Meadville Medical Center had a $6 million profit in fiscal year 2007, the latest year figures are available from the Pennsylvania Health Care Cost Containment Council. Figures for fiscal 2008 are to be released later this spring.

As a non-profit community hospital, by law Meadville Medical Center must reinvest any profits it makes in equipment and buildings or new services for patients.

Its net patient revenue was $108 million for fiscal 2007 compared to expenses of about $102 million.

For fiscal year 2006, it operated at a break-even level with net patient revenue of $90 million while its total operating expenses were about $90 million.



Keith Gushard can be reached at 724-6370 or by e-mail at kgushard@meadvilletribune.com.

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