Ninety workers at hospital systems in Bangor and Lewiston are uncertain whether they’ll have jobs beyond October, after their Massachusetts-based parent organization announced this week that it’s shedding 360 jobs and moving about two-thirds of them to an outside company.
Covenant Health, the parent organization, said that 12 employees of St. Joseph Healthcare in Bangor and 78 employees of St. Mary’s Health System in Lewiston still have not been granted jobs with the outside company, Ensemble Health Partners.
Another 46 workers at another Covenant Health facility, St. Joseph Hospital in Nashua, New Hampshire, haven’t been offered new positions at Ensemble, either.
Covenant Health, which is based in Tewksbury, Massachusetts, is shedding the positions as it outsources its “revenue cycle” functions to Ensemble. The organization’s revenue cycle staff do a range of tasks that help the system collect payment for its services, including billing, medical procedure coding and working with insurance companies.
North Carolina-based Ensemble Health Partners will become the employer for 230 revenue cycle staff members, while another 136 workers across the three Maine and New Hampshire hospitals still have not been offered new positions with the company, Covenant Health spokeswoman Karen Sullivan said.
Sullivan declined to offer specifics about what those 136 affected workers currently do, but she said many of them perform clerical work.
Covenant Health is outsourcing the jobs because about 18 months ago it installed a new electronic health records system that included programs for collecting the system’s revenue.
But the organization has had trouble implementing the new system, which has prevented it from collecting enough revenue, according to Sullivan.
“In this particular case, the challenges relate to the functions of the revenue cycle,” Sullivan said. “We need to be able to move charges through the billing cycle in an efficient way, in a correct way, and we’ve had difficulty doing that.”
The implementation of the new records system also frustrated health care providers and patients, she said.
Hospitals and health care systems in 38 states use Ensemble Health Partners to manage their revenue cycles.
Officials from Covenant Health and Ensemble Health Partners will meet with the staff who still have not been offered positions to determine if they may be qualified for jobs elsewhere in either organization, according to Sullivan.
“We really want to retain as many employees as possible,” Sullivan said.