Reading Health System eliminating nearly 400 positions

210 jobs to be cut through layoffs, 181 through attrition, officials say

Reading Health System eliminating nearly 400 positions

WEST READING, Pa. - One of Berks County's largest employers is trimming its workforce in an effort to save money.

Reading Health System will lay off 210 employees and leave another 181 positions unfilled through attrition, officials announced Tuesday. The layoffs represent 2.7 percent of the health system's workforce.

"These reductions-in-force, while painful to those affected and difficult for all of us who have worked side-by-side with these colleagues, are nonetheless necessary so that we might strategically reallocate resources into areas of greater growth and importance for the community," said Clint Matthews, president and chief executive officer of Reading Health System.

Some of the job cuts are the result of the health system's new $150 million electronic health records system, Reading HealthConnect, which provides patients and health care providers with instant access to information and eliminates the need for many staffers who previously processed paperwork, officials said.

The health system will also refine its employee retirement program in two ways.

Effective July 1, new hires will be eligible for a defined contribution retirement savings plan in which the health system will annually contribute two percent of base salary and match 50 cents of every dollar, up to four percent of an employee's savings, officials said.

Current employees will see no change in their benefit plan until July 1, 2016, at which time they will transition into a new contribution retirement savings plan. The health system will annually contribute two to six percent of base salary, based on years of service, in addition to matching 50 cents of every dollar, up to four percent of an employee's savings, officials said.

The changes, officials said, will have no impact either on current retirees receiving pensions or retirees who are not yet receiving pensions.

"Such strategic adjustments of our resources, including not replacing positions resulting from attrition and moving toward a defined contribution retirement savings plan, are necessary to enable Reading Health System to remain financially and operationally strong, and remain a regional health care leader for the long-term," Matthews said.

Other money-saving changes the health system has made in recent months include a reduction in overtime costs, decreased use of agency staff, and unfilled support positions.

While officials said the measures will not affect patient services or care, patients will benefit by the health system's investment of the money it saves.

"Specifically, the savings from these positions, the majority in support and non-clinical roles, will be redirected toward continuing to invest in sophisticated medical equipment and adding experienced clinical professionals, including surgical specialists for our new state-of-art surgery center," Matthews said.

The health system employs more than 4,000 people on its campuses throughout the Greater Reading area, making it the county's second largest employer behind East Penn Manufacturing in 2012.

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Allentown, PA 18102




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