Ascension Technologies, the St. Louis-based hospital giant’s information-technology services arm, will lay off more than 200 employees in Michigan.Ascension last week notified Michigan officials that it plans to eliminate an estimated 223 network operations and service desk jobs in Troy, Mich., between Oct. 24 and Nov. 25.The health system is outsourcing their responsibilities to an outside vendor, according to Ascension’s notification, which Michigan officials posted online this week.”Ascension Technologies, after extended discernment and as part of its technology transformation, has made the decision to engage a third-party to perform the work currently performed by employees of the Network Operations Center and Service Desk,” reads the letter, signed by a senior director of human resources at Ascension.Employees will be able to apply for other positions in Ascension Technologies and with the unnamed vendor, according to the letter. Ascension Technologies will provide severance and outplacement services to those who do not secure another position.Ascension’s senior vice president and chief information officer, Gerry Lewis, earlier this month penned a blog post acknowledging the health system’s “digital transformation” efforts had resulted in workforce changes.”Well before COVID-19, Ascension began a journey of digital transformation to enhance the user experience for physicians, other caregivers and patients alike,” Lewis wrote in the Aug. 11 blog post. “As part of this transformation to drive innovation and enhance capabilities to meet the healthcare needs and expectations of our communities, like other healthcare organizations we have begun shifting some of our technology functions to third-party partners who specialize in these services. And as this work shifts, it means some changes to our workforce.”Ascension helps employees whose positions the health system eliminates with retraining and finding new jobs, according to Lewis.An Ascension spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment on how many job losses are expected to result from the health system’s digital transformation efforts, but pointed Modern Healthcare toward Lewis’ blog post. He did not respond to a request for comment on the outsourcing company’s identity.Ascension has been outsourcing jobs for years, though mainly in its revenue cycle and medical transcription services.The Labor Department deemed 1,067 employees from Ascension eligible for Trade Adjustment Assistance, a federal program to provide financial assistance and job training after a worker loses a job or sees reduced pay when their company shifts production to or increased imports from a foreign country, from 2010 through January 2020—the most of any health system in the data, according to a recent Modern Healthcare analysis. Most of the employees were laid off from 2017 to 2019 when work shifted to India.Not-for-profit Ascension posted $1.2 billion in excess revenue over expenses in its fiscal 2019.
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