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Pittsburgh Mercy Health System to lay off 75, close 2 treatment facilities

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Thursday, Aug. 16, 2012, 12:01 a.m.
 

State budget cuts are leading one of Allegheny County's largest health and human service nonprofits to furlough 75 workers and close two treatment facilities, displacing residents, officials say.

Pittsburgh Mercy Health System, or PMHS, said Wednesday it will close its Regional Residential Treatment Facility, a licensed 12-bed home in Ohioville, Beaver County, and Riverview Manor, a licensed 15-bed personal care home in the North Side, once it finds new homes for residents.

Health officials from around the state said this may only be the beginning of the cuts.

“Clearly, program closures are beginning to occur ... we're going to see more of that,” said George J. Kimes, executive director of the Pennsylvania Community Provider Association in Harrisburg. “People are just beginning to get allocations and ideas about what the cuts mean. We're early in the process.”

The group is beginning to collect data on the impact the cuts are having, he said.

The $27.7 billion budget Gov. Tom Corbett signed on June 30 cut funding by 10 percent to seven county-directed human service programs ranging from those for mental health, the elderly and the homeless to substance abuse.

“In this past budget cycle the governor was able to reduce funding reductions from 20 percent to 10 percent, reductions that were mandatory in order for the state to confront another billion-dollar deficit,” said Kelli Roberts, a spokesperson for Corbett. “It's also important to note that in a very hard budget cycle for state finances, the administration was able to fully fund all other hospital payments.”

The next year might be just as difficult for service providers, health officials said.

“We're all bracing for the next fiscal year,” said Scott Simon, chief financial officer for Family Services of Western Pennsylvania. The organization closed a mobile drug and alcohol program in Westmoreland County in July because of budget cuts.

Terming the furloughs difficult but prudent, Pittsburgh Mercy Health System officials said they took great care to preserve services for those most in need and to minimize the impact of the state funding cuts. The furloughs were made in administrative, support and nondirect care positions.

“These are challenging times for Pennsylvania health and human service providers,” said Sister Susan Welsh, CEO of Pittsburgh Mercy Health System.

Affected employees received extended health care coverage, professional job placement services and three months of additional access to the services of the PMHS Employee Assistance Program, officials said. Eligible employees also received a severance.

With annual operating revenue of $85 million and 1,700 employees, Pittsburgh Mercy Health System serves more than 26,000 people annually in approximately 60 locations in Allegheny County.

Craig Smith is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-380-5646 or csmith@tribweb.com.

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