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Employees of Billings Clinic express concerns about the future of the company



Billings, Montana – “I see no path forward where they become financially stable in the short term without layoffs at this point”

One day after the hospital revealed a cost-cutting plan targeted at saving the institution four and a half million dollars a month, one Billings Clinic employee made the ominous forecast.

Yet given the extent of those budget cuts, many are now doubting the hospital’s efforts to establish itself as the state’s first level one trauma center. Likewise, the standing of its recently declared alliance with Logan Health. The employees who spoke with MTN declined to be named out of concern for retaliation from the hospital, but they claim that many of the institution’s 4,700 staff are outraged by the news.

“Honestly it’s confusion, panic, and fear because all of us that rely on our retirements are now set back a decade,” said anonymous Billings Clinic employee number one on Saturday.

All physicians will see wage reductions of 5%, top management team members will have pay cuts of 10%, and most new employees will still be subject to a hiring freeze. The employer match for 403-B retirement plans will also be suspended. The group also claims that it is considering other measures to protect its long-term viability.

“A year of deferred retirement is a huge deal. And Billings Clinic, I feel like, is trying to minimize the impact of that on people and they’re doing that to save face,” said anonymous employee number two on Saturday.

Both workers agree that action needs to be taken.

“The long-term consequences are starting to show itself and it’s that Billings Clinic has huge amounts of money every month that they’re having to pay for contract labor. They’re having to bring in nurses, they’re having to bring in pharmacists and physicians,” added employee number two.

The hospital is allegedly in an unsustainable position as a result of increased labor and prescription prices, according to a letter from Billings Clinic to its staff.

The hospital issued the following statement:

“We are focused on addressing serious financial challenges facing our organization and the steps we will take are understandably difficult. Our costs to provide care are rising while reimbursement for that care remains essentially flat.

Every department is helping to find ways to decrease costs and increase patient access and we are seeing early successes in that work.

Billings Clinic has shown incredible resilience in the past in the face of challenges. By working together and staying focused on the needs of our patients and the communities we serve, we will ensure the success of our organization and our mission.”

Although Billings Clinic declined to say how much money it loses each month, these staff members assert that it is in the millions.

“One bad decision leads to five more bad decisions and it seems like the cycle won’t stop,” added employee number one.

And now the cost is being borne by the workers.

“They could cut 100% of employee salary and still be losing money,” employee number two added.

There are numerous additional potential effects.

Uncertainty exists around how the changes will affect a new merger with Kalispell-based Logan Health or the clinic’s efforts to establish itself as Montana’s first level one trauma center.

“It’s a nonbinding agreement at this point, if Logan Health sees a threat, they’re free to just walk away from the table and that’s certainly a possibility…. The same decisions that have been made that put us in this position if they continue to be made, then Billings Clinic is looking at having to have government support, big nonprofit support or they’re going out of business,” said employee number two.


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