FARMINGTON — The Franklin Community Health Network, which includes Franklin Memorial Hospital, has announced a cost-reduction plan that includes 22 layoffs among 40 eliminated full-time positions and a salary freeze for employees.

The plan, approved by the FCHN board of directors on Tuesday, comes in the wake of the organization netting $15 million in losses since 2011. The reductions in staffing and operations are estimated to save FCHN $4.5 million annually.

The staffing and operations reductions, which include eliminating vacant positions, will not affect the level of services offered to patients, according to interim CEO Timothy Churchill; rather, the plan will “better align its services with patient demand.”

“Our goal in this process has been to keep patients first while putting FCHN on a sustainable path for the future,” Churchill said in the release. “FCHN has a bright future, but to realize that future we’ve got to put these structure financial challenges behind us and build on our solid foundation.”

The organization has been operating at a loss since 2013, according to spokeswoman Jill Gray. Before merging with MaineHealth in 2014, FCHN eliminated 35 to 40 positions, citing financial trouble.

Gray said Friday the most recent round of layoffs is not a result of the merger. The 22 individuals affected by the immediate layoffs were notified on Thursday, she said.

The 40 vacant positions eliminated in the cost-reduction plan include office and physician support staff, a housekeeping position, an accounting position and a care support nurse.

The plan also includes a salary freeze for FCHN employees, though the board said it hopes to resume wage and salary adjustments in fiscal year 2017 if the organization’s financial targets are met. Temporary reductions in paid time off and retirement benefits also were made to save 25 full-time jobs within the organization.

In addition to the staffing reductions, the number of operating rooms will be reduced from three to two, and the number of beds in the intensive care unit will go from five to two.

Churchill said the reduction of beds will better align hospital services with patient demand, noting that the three operating rooms had been operating at only about 60 percent of capacity. He said the two rooms can accommodate the same volume of patients with the same level of care.

With the use of the emergency department down 5 percent over last four years, staffing of the department will be adjusted. Functions at FCHN’s NorthStar Ambulance operations also will be reduced, but the reduction is not expected to affect coverage or services.

Several FCHN offices across the county will consolidated, including the closure of a radiology office in Rangeley. That office will be consolidated with the radiology services on the Farmington campus, since the Rangeley office has been averaging fewer than four X-ray procedures each week in recent years.

The release said the organization would continue to invest in its Livermore Falls locations, but some physician practices located at the Farmington practice will be consolidated into more efficient locations to enable practice personnel to work more closely with each other.

The release cites the state’s failure to expand Medicaid under the federal Affordable Care Act as a factor contributing to Franklin Memorial Hospital’s financial problems, but Gray said the exact figure wasn’t available Friday.

In addition, the reimbursements the organization receives from the federal government for Medicare and Medicaid services do not cover the full cost of providing care in a rural setting. The “inadequate Medicare reimbursements” are the result of the hospital not meeting the federal government’s “critical access” hospital standard, Churchill said.

A critical access hospital must have fewer than 25 beds and be more than 35 miles from another hospital. Franklin Memorial Hospital is licensed for 65 beds, and the nearest neighboring hospital, Redington-Fairview in Skowhegan, is 30 miles away.

Left out of the cost-reduction plan was FCHN’s community health programs facilitated through the Healthy Community Coalition of Franklin County.

Lauren Abbate — 861-9252

[email protected]

Twitter: @Lauren_M_Abbate

Comments are not available on this story.