The Southwestern Vermont Medical Center in Bennington is part of Dartmouth Health. File photo by Glenn Russell/VTDigger

This story by Nora Doyle-Burr first appeared in the Valley News on June 8.

LEBANON, New Hampshire — As part of a restructuring effort to address a budget deficit, Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center and Dartmouth Hitchcock Clinics are laying off 75 workers and eliminating about 100 vacant positions, according to a message Dartmouth Health’s CEO sent to employees on Thursday.

Most of those affected were notified on Thursday, Dartmouth Health CEO Joanne Conroy wrote in her message.

“Despite the significant performance improvement efforts taking place across the organization, Dartmouth Hitchcock is still facing substantial financial and operational pressures,” Conroy wrote. “These pressures require thoughtful and clear action to create the long-term sustainability that will allow us to deliver on our mission, now and into the future.”

Overall, Dartmouth Health has about 10,000 employees.

In a January email to employees, Dartmouth Health officials said they were looking to close a $120 million budget gap by the end of September. That process, part of a performance improvement plan first initiated last November, has involved an initial hiring freeze and then a hiring review by the Position Control Review and Clinical Workforce Committees.

Dartmouth Health’s most recent financial statement showed signs that it may be beginning to turn a corner, but the health network was still losing money. In the month of March, Dartmouth Health posted a positive margin — 1.9% — for the month for the first time since fall 2021.

The loss for the quarter ending March 31 was $15.1 million, equivalent to about 2% of Dartmouth Health’s revenue, according to a late May filing. That was better than the $36.6 million loss in the preceding quarter, which ended Dec. 31, 2022, and less than the $25.9 million loss during the same quarter last fiscal year.

The pressures Dartmouth Health is facing, which officials have said include a workforce shortage and difficulties discharging patients to other facilities in a timely manner, are not unique to the organization, Audra Burns, a Dartmouth Health spokeswoman, said in a Thursday email.

“We are committed to overcoming these complicated and systemic challenges, but thoughtful and clear action was necessary to evolve and operate more efficiently while maintaining the delivery of high-quality, world-class care to the community,” Burns said.

In her Thursday email, Conroy said that the decisions as to which positions to eliminate were based not on the individuals in those roles, but on the roles within the organization.

Dartmouth Health worked with an “external partner” to make recommendations around size, leadership to employee ratios, as well as ways to “operate more efficiently while maintaining the delivery of our high-quality, world-class care to our community,” Conroy wrote.

“The restructure is designed to make the greatest strategic impact with the fewest reductions,” she wrote. “Maintaining frontline clinical staff remains a top priority.”

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