Blessing Health System Eliminates 150 Positions ‘In Response to Business Costs … and Challenges Unique to the Healthcare Industry’

QUINCY – Matt Rolando was lying in a Blessing hospital bed Tuesday morning when he learned he had been fired from Blessing Health System.

“It was cold, and it was unprofessional,” Rolando said. But it seems that the coldness and unprofessionalism of the recent blessing health system has followed a culture change.

An email to employees on behalf of Maureen Kahn, president and CEO of Blessing Health System, indicated that Rolando’s position was among about 150 eliminated Tuesday. A similar message was sent to employees on Tuesday.

In a press release issued Tuesday at 4:30 p.m., Blessing Health is downsizing the organization “by reducing reimbursements in response to rising business costs due to inflation and challenges to the healthcare industry and changing patient care needs.”

Most of the eliminated positions — approximately 88 — are vacant and will remain unfilled, the release said. For the remaining positions, Blessing has offered employees severance packages, offered new positions, or reduced their current full-time positions.

Rolando has worked for the past five years as a systems and network administrator in the Blessing Information Systems department. On Sunday night, he was diagnosed with chest pain and admitted to Bereket Hospital, where he was finally diagnosed with a blood clot in his lungs.

Rolando had an idea something was up when he received an email Monday night saying he needed to meet Leah Ann Ecclesschult, Blessing’s chief technology officer, Tuesday morning.

“I’ve never had a meeting like that before, so it looked bad,” Rolando said.

He said he sent a reply to Ecclesiat’s administrative assistant, saying he was hospitalized and unable to meet in person.

“And she’s like, ‘Oh, we’ll change that,'” Rolando said. “I was lying in their hospital when they called me this morning. There’s a whole script and everything to go on. It was very cold and calculated. They didn’t answer any questions and offered a non-negotiable one week severance pay. no more.”

“It’s a tough day for (the sacked workers) and Blessings,” Khan said at a press conference on Tuesday.

“People’s lives have been affected,” she said. “Healthcare providers nationwide are facing unprecedented pressures and challenges. Blessing is committed to providing health care to the tri-state residents who trust us. We are meeting this challenge and maintaining that commitment by becoming a leaner organization to increase our efficiency and effectiveness in providing high quality care during these difficult times.

“As part of this work, we are exploring options for providing new services or current services in new ways that meet patient care needs and provide access and lower costs.”

Moody River News contacted Blessing officials for an interview with Kahn. Steve Felde, coordinator of external and internal relations in the Marketing, Communications and Community Relations Division, responded by email, “No interviews are available. The description says it all.

Blessing Health Systems announced on September 1 that it will close its hospital in Keokuk, Iowa on October 1 and focus its healthcare resources in the region on clinic-based outpatient care. The press release said the level of patient and emergency care demand does not support the investment required to operate a 49-bed hospital and emergency department seven days a week.

When Rolando learned last week that Blessing had canceled a series of annual staff meetings, he said he thought bad things were “on the horizon.”

“There’s no explanation as to why. ‘No, we don’t.'” Rolando said. “So we figured something more was coming down the pike. It was like when they closed Kekuk Hospital. We didn’t think there were going to be layoffs because we were spread so thin (in information systems).

Rolando said Blessing Health System’s culture has “moved away” from taking care of employees and taking care of the community.

“There is no loyalty,” he said. “I’ve worked here for five years and I put in many hours every week to make sure our systems worked so our patients got the best care. It didn’t matter. (Blessing) became a business instead of a health care organization. They care about profits, and it shows.”

A list of top employers in Quincy and Adams counties on the Great River Economic Development Foundation website shows Blessing Health System has 2,914 local employees and 3,498 company-wide employees.

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