Ochsner employees lament nearly 800 layoffs, say patient care will be impacted

Published: May. 12, 2023 at 11:04 PM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - Fired Ochsner employees sounded off on the company’s decision to abruptly lay off nearly 800 employees across Louisiana and Mississippi, or about two percent of the hospital system’s total workforce.

Employees, speaking with Fox 8, said not only are they concerned for themselves and their family’s financial situations, but that they’re concerned for Ochsner patients.

On Thursday, Ochsner sent a companywide email, detailing plans to lay off 770 employees. The email said the layoffs “impacted management and primarily non-direct patient care roles,” but Fox 8 has spoken with a number of employees who regularly had direct patient contact.

One of those employees, who Fox 8 is not identifying, said she worked in a supervisory role at an Ochsner clinic.

She, like other employees, had received the email Thursday morning, but was surprised when she received the follow up email hours later, scheduling an appointment to sit down with management and officially be terminated.

RELATED STORY: Ochsner to lay off nearly 800 employees in La., Miss. as supply costs rise

“I was an Ochsner cheerleader, I loved Ochsner, I loved working there but now it’s really left a sour taste in my mouth,” she said. “I had heard some things kind of being thrown around regarding people getting laid off, but I said, ‘Certainly not me in a clinic that’s super short staffed with 20+ openings and I do 5 different jobs.”

She was in a patient-facing role, dealing with patients who came into the clinic on a daily basis, and the staff under her who did the same.

“I had to smile and act like nothing was wrong with the patients, because patients first, right? That’s their motto, which I love. But obviously if you’re not treating your employees with the utmost respect and showing them that they’re valued, then you’re not going to get patients first,” she said.

Another woman, who Fox 8 is not identifying, said employees at hospitals, after learning of their termination, were escorted off Ochsner property by security guards. This story has been verified by several staff members who spoke with Fox 8, but declined to be identified out of fear of retaliation.

“I am non patient facing, but I also know of others. I have friends that are LPNs and RNs that have lost their jobs as well,” the woman said. “Non-patient employees still have just as much of a importance as those who are on the clinic floor. We are the ones that are behind the scenes that get the things that the providers need.”

In a statement, an Ochsner spokesperson blamed the timing of the layoffs, during “Nurse’s Week,” on a media leak forcing the health system’s hand.

They denied that patient care would suffer, but former employees seemed to think otherwise.

“There could be waits. There could be waits for medications, there could be waits for imaging, for any type of testing that’s needed, there could be waits for referrals to see specialists,” the woman in non-patient facing care said.

Ochsner’s statement, in full, reads:

As the memo from CEO Pete November shared on May 10, the workforce reduction impacted management and primarily non-direct patient care roles. For any impacted employees who have active clinical credentials, including supervisors, we will be reaching out to each of them to offer a generous incentive package to step into full-time bedside roles across our system. We are already working with more than 40 clinical employees who have expressed interest in continuing their career at Ochsner, and we sincerely hope they choose to remain with Ochsner.

Following the systemwide message from CEO Pete November, all team members impacted by this workforce reduction received a calendar appointment for a personal, in-person or virtual meeting to share that their position was eliminated and learn about their next steps and how Ochsner is supporting them through the transition.

We made the notification during nurses week after learning of a potential media leak. We felt strongly our team members hear the news from us, not a media outlet.

We are evolving our structure to ensure we continue to be a strong organization with the resources to fulfill our purpose and lead the way for clinical excellence and innovation. This absolutely will not impact our ability to care for our patients and communities. We have multiple layers of nursing leadership and dedicated teams of caregivers  at every Ochsner care site as patient care is always our top priority. Our patients and communities can continue to depend on us for the excellent, compassionate care they expect from Ochsner.

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