Hospital ready to hire again after layoffs |

Hospital ready to hire again after layoffs

Eben Harrell

Aspen Valley Hospital has hired employees to fill two positions that were eliminated in mass layoffs last April and is currently advertising openings in 12 other jobs, the hospital has confirmed.A hospital spokeswoman said the hiring and current openings are due to routine employee turnover and a normal adjustment process after such a large reduction in force. An AVH employee who was laid off in April said she feels the hospital is “moving in the right direction.” On April 14, 34 employees, nearly 8 percent of the hospital’s work force, were laid off while the institution struggled through a financial crisis.”We have two positions that were eliminated for business reasons that we have filled: a night shift house supervisor and a receptionist in the diagnostic imaging department,” said Ginny Dyche, the hospital’s director of community relations.She said that since the layoffs, the hospital learned those two positions were indispensable.”We had a plan to cover their duties, and that plan didn’t work out as well as we had hoped. So it was decided that the positions should be filled,” Dyche said. “An adjustment process is to be expected after such a large reduction in force.”Neither of the two laid-off employees who filled the positions were rehired, Dyche said. She said the former house supervisor turned down the opportunity to work regular night shifts, and the former receptionist already had another job when the hospital began the hiring process. Dyche refused to release the employees’ names.On the day of the layoffs, hospital officials sent a letter to the terminated employees saying they would be given priority if new positions opened up. “Reduced work force will be given first priority to fill positions depending on qualifications. You can monitor open positions by calling the job hotline or by going to the hospital’s website,” the letter stated in part.Dyche denied rumors that the hospital targeted senior employees in its reduction of force to clear the way for the hiring of untenured employees with lower salaries.”There was never an intention to decrease costs by identifying employees with highest salary or highest tenure. That was not the intention, nor was it practiced at any level during the reduction in force,” she said.Eileen Sullivan, a former AVH obstetrics and emergency room nurse who was laid off in April, said most terminated employees understand why the hospital is currently hiring. She said that while the layoffs weren’t handled with consideration, they were ultimately in the best interest of the hospital.”They are getting their act together. It’s going to take some time,” Sullivan said. “There was a lot of anger about how the layoffs were handled, but they did what they had to do.”I’ve lost my home, my job, my source of stability. But I’ve moved on and I think the hospital has, too.”The hospital is currently advertising openings for 12 positions on its Web site. Dyche said the openings are due to normal levels of attrition: Four people moved from Aspen, one left AVH to enroll in further schooling, three became temporary workers for a national agency, one employee was terminated, two positions were vacated for unknown reasons, and one position is for extra staff to cover vacations.Dyche also confirmed that the hospital has rehired longtime AVH housekeeper Charlie Holloway. At a hospital board meeting following the layoffs, AVH’s nurse council implored the board to rehire Holloway, saying his termination “had left a gaping wound in the morale of the hospital.”The board decided shortly thereafter to authorize his rehiring.Eben Harrell’s e-mail address is

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