University of Miami Hospital began layoffs this month as administrators start restructuring the UHealth system of doctors, medical centers and community clinics to offer more care in outpatient facilities instead of checking into a hospital overnight.
UHealth administrators wouldn’t say how many employees will lose their jobs at the 560-bed UM Hospital. But Lisa Worley, a UHealth spokeswoman, said in a written statement that, “There are no plans for across-the-board layoffs.”
Worley’s statement added that individuals whose jobs are changed or eliminated will be given the chance to apply for other positions within UHealth when possible. She said the goal is to improve patient care at UM Hospital, which had about 1,900 employees in 2013, according to the most recent data available from state regulators.
But the changes also are part of a larger restructuring announced Wednesday in a letter to university employees from UM President Julio Frenk, whose memo made no mention of layoffs.
Instead, Frenk’s memo addressed organizational changes at UM, including changes in his executive leadership team, which includes UHealth CEO Steven Altschuler, who oversees the hospital as well as Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center, Bascom Palmer Eye Institute, a network of outpatient clinics and about 1,200 physicians.
Like other Florida hospitals, UM Hospital faces financial questions with the state slashing Medicaid payments and Congress proceeding with a repeal of the Affordable Care Act that is projected to leave 24 million Americans uninsured over the next decade — sticking hospitals with more uncompensated care.
In a May meeting with the Miami Herald’s editorial board, Frenk and Altschuler said UHealth needed to adapt to those challenges but also to take advantage of other changes in healthcare, including the shift away from overnight hospital stays to outpatient care in community clinics.
Altschuler said UHealth will put greater emphasis on preventive healthcare, and on translating clinical research advances into practical applications for patients. He also said cancer care will be an area of intense focus because, “Florida will have the highest incidence of cancer in the country” over the next decade.
Altschuler and Frenk also talked about their goal to grow UHealth, which generates about $2.4 billion a year in revenues and — along with the football team — is perhaps UM’s most high-profile endeavor in South Florida. They said UHealth will need revenues in the range of $5 billion to $6 billion a year, about 20 percent of all healthcare money spent in the region.
Frenk said he envisioned growth coming from new facilities such as the Lennar Foundation Medical Center at UM’s campus in Coral Gables, which provides specialty services. About 95 percent of UHealth’s care will be delivered in outpatient settings in the future, he said.
Asked what that meant for the future of UM Hospital, Altschuler said that all inpatient units will have to be “re-purposed” and he noted that there’s still a need for more hospital beds for cancer patients.
“We will utilize the shell,” he said at the time, “but from a care perspective, it will look very different.”