Ochsner Health, a hospital system operating in Louisiana and Mississippi, has faced backlash from recently laid-off employees who expressed concerns about the impact on patient care. The company made the decision to lay off 770 employees, which accounts for around two percent of its total workforce.
While Ochsner stated that the layoffs primarily affected non-direct patient care roles, employees who regularly interacted with patients contradicted this claim. Some employees expressed disappointment and frustration, stating that they believed their roles were secure, especially considering the understaffed clinics and numerous job openings within the organization.
One employee, who held a patient-facing position, mentioned the discrepancy between Ochsner’s motto of “patients first” and the treatment of its employees. She explained that despite personal concerns, she had to maintain a positive demeanor for the sake of the patients. However, she believed that neglecting employee well-being would ultimately hinder the organization’s ability to prioritize patient care effectively.
According to several individuals who preferred to remain anonymous due to fear of retaliation, terminated employees were escorted off Ochsner property by security guards. The accounts of these employees were independently verified by Fox 8, the news outlet covering the story.
Ochsner, in response to the criticism, attributed the timing of the layoffs during “Nurse’s Week” to a media leak, claiming that it left them with no alternative. The company spokesperson denied that patient care would be negatively affected. However, former employees expressed concerns about potential delays in medication administration, imaging services, testing, and referrals to specialists.
The layoffs have sparked a contentious debate, highlighting the challenges healthcare organizations face when balancing financial considerations and maintaining quality patient care.
Here is the Ochsner’s full statement:
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.