UPMC provides no local data on staff reductions

In late April, UPMC announced about 1,000 workforce cuts were being issued throughout its 40-hospital system, but no information was provided on the number of UPMC Northwest employees affected.

The newspaper earlier this month asked for numbers specific to UPMC Northwest, but a spokesperson for the system’s northwest Pennsylvania and New York region would only provide the original April 25 statement from UPMC Vice President and Chief Communications Officer Paul Wood, which did not include hospital-specific information.

According to the spokesperson, the statement had not changed, and that there was “no other information to add at this time.”

However, a cardiologist at the UPMC Heart and Vascular Institute (HVI) has written an open letter to UPMC administration expressing disappointment in the way the staff reductions were handled, which he shared with the newspaper.

“While I understand the need for workforce cuts in this current economic climate, what I strongly object to is the way this was done,” wrote Dr. William Edwards, a cardiologist in Franklin for 40 years, first at the Franklin Hospital and then at UPMC Northwest with the HVI.

“Here at UPMC Northwest, several employees with over 20 years of excellent service were dismissed without any warning, told to empty their desks then were escorted unceremoniously to the door by security. Is this anyway to treat people who helped build your empire?” he continued.

Williams suggested there might be other ways to save money, citing “prior CEOs making 9 million a year; Superbowl ads; legal fees for Medicare fraud and surgeons doing multiple simultaneous procedures; $50 million corporate jet; 30-plus administrators and board members making over $1 million a year.”

The doctor concluded his letter by saying “I have been very blessed to work with the outstanding doctors, nurses and staff at UPMC, but this is surely no way to treat people.”

UPMC did not offer any comment to the newspaper when asked for the administration’s perspective on the disappointment around the handling of the cuts.

In his original statement, Wood had cited the “challenges” and “realities” the health care industry is facing post-pandemic, and said that “limited reductions are occurring throughout the health system primarily among non-clinical, non-member-facing, administrative staff through attrition, closing of open positions, elimination of redundancies and other actions.”

According to Wood, the employee reductions affect just over 1% of the more than 100,000 staff members throughout the UPMC workforce systemwide.

An article in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported UPMC had experienced an operational loss of $198 million in 2023, despite an 8% revenue gain from core operations and a 3% increase in outpatient activity, and that along with UPMC, the other two biggest health care systems in western Pennsylvania also reported losses from operations last year — Allegheny Health Network and Independence Health System.