Akron – Summa Health is eliminating 300 positions, citing significant losses in both revenue and patients.
Summa Health, Summit County's largest employer, is facing "staggering operating losses" as inpatient and outpatient volumes this year are "dramatically down," Dr. Cliff Deveny interim president and CEO, stated in an internal memo released June 26. The current projections show Summa Health going from a profit of $30 million in 2016 to a loss of more than $60 million in 2017, Deveny said.
"While we have considerable cash in reserve to protect us for the short term, this trend must stop immediately," Deveny said.
In response to the loss of revenue, Summa Health will face several changes in the next month. Approximately 300 positions will be eliminated, he said. Roughly half of the positions are currently open and will not be filled.
"While the primary goal is to eliminate administrative layers in the organization, all functions are affected," Deveny said.
Summa Health will discontinue certain services that can be provided in other places, according to Deveny, and also will consolidate units and services for efficiency.
"We cannot afford to maintain multiple half-full units or have duplicate operations in multiple functions," Deveny said.
There are multiple factors, both internal and external, impacting Summa Health, he said.
"The healthcare industry is changing rapidly, and hospital systems are being hurt by what is occurring in Washington and in state capitals across the country," Deveny said. "As a smaller, locally controlled health system, we suffer disproportionately."
Patients are utilizing caregivers and specialists outside Summa Health, according to the memo.
"As an organization dedicated to population health, we must do a better job of providing for the complete health needs of patients within our system," Deveny said.
Many independent physicians are not referring patients to Summa Health because of concerns about quality of care, Deveny added in his memo.
"Despite these assertions, the quality of our care has been validated by external accreditation bodies, and we continue to deliver high-quality, compassionate care in our community," Deveny said.
Summit County Executive Ilene Shapiro said that Summa Health has served Summit County and Northeast Ohio residents for 125 years.
"However, the current climate in the health care industry is leading many organizations to re-evaluate their financial and operations models and make difficult decisions to maintain quality care," Shapiro said.
Deveny replaced Dr. Thomas Malone as president and CEO of Summa Health in February, after Malone resigned.
"During his short time at the helm of Summa Health, Dr. Cliff Deveny has been forthcoming and honest about the financial realities facing Summa and the health care industry," Shapiro said.
"Summa's well-being is critical to both our local economy and the overall health of our local population. It is my hope that today's events, while difficult, will help to ensure Summa's long-term viability."
Summit County is coordinating with Summa Health management to make job seeking and placement services available through the Ohio Means Jobs Center to all impacted employees, Shapiro said.
"Like Summa Health, the county is committed to assisting those families impacted by today's announcement," Shapiro said.
All new projects will be re-evaluated, the memo stated; however, Summa Health’s West Tower project will continue as scheduled. Summa Health broke ground in May on the new West Tower at the health provider's East Market Street Akron campus. The tower is the initial step in Summa's $270 million Phase I facility plan announced last year. According to officials, Summa plans to invest up to $350 million throughout all phases of the project over the next six to seven years.
The tower is scheduled to be completed in the spring of 2019 and feature private patient rooms; expanded surgery suites and patient prep and recovery room; two floors dedicated solely to women's health; a breast center; a multi-purpose conference center; a large covered canopy area for drop-off with dedicated valet services; and a bridge to the adjoining Adolph parking garage, according to Summa.
"This investment is necessary to help Summa achieve its long-term mission," Deveny said.