Buyouts May Save Brigham and Women’s from Widespread Layoffs

But severance packages may cost as much as $90 million.

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Photo by Alex Lau

Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) looks likely to avoid widespread layoffs, thanks to voluntary workforce reduction measures taken earlier this year.

In April, the hospital offered voluntary buyouts to more than 1,000 employees ages 60 and older, excluding doctors and researchers. A few days before the August 4 deadline, however, only about 45 percent of those eligible for the buyouts had accepted them, prompting the hospital to send an internal email mentioning a “voluntary separation opportunity” that would be offered to additional staffers. It’s unclear where that process stands now.

In any case, Peter Markell, chief financial officer of BWH’s parent company Partners HealthCare, said Friday that enough BWH employees agreed to the voluntary measures to avoid major layoffs. “The acceptance rate was strong enough that I think if there are any additional [layoffs], they would be very targeted,” Markell told the Boston Globe.

Severance packages resulting from the buyouts will reportedly cost the hospital as much as $90 million, $19 million of which will be reflected in BWH’s third quarter fiscal activity. The buyouts won’t save the hospital money until fiscal year 2018, Markell said.

Partners reported a $108 million operating loss in fiscal year 2016, in part due to a pricey new software system and an expensive near-nursing strike at BWH. The Brigham also opened a $475 million facility for outpatient care and research last fall.