Grace Cottage Hospital in Townshend. (Zachary P. Stephens/Reformer)
Grace Cottage Hospital in Townshend. (Zachary P. Stephens/Reformer)
TOWNSHEND -- Grace Cottage Hospital announced layoffs Thursday, saying the move is a "financial corrections plan" made necessary by changes that will happen as the federal Affordable Care Act is implemented.

The furloughs affect 15 employees across eight departments. That's equivalent to about 10 percent of the hospital's workforce.

"The reduction in staff has been planned so that our high quality of patient care will not be impacted," Deborah Boyle, who chairs the hospital's board of trustees, said in a prepared statement issued Thursday morning.

"We are sorry that the employees affected by this reduction will no longer be with us," Boyle said. "We appreciate their important contributions to Grace Cottage and to our patients during their employment here."

Boyle cited declining reimbursements and other health-care changes as reasons for the cuts.

"As an established leader in Vermont community and rural health care, Grace Cottage is preparing now for the full implementation of the Affordable Care Act," she said. "The decision to reduce staff was an extremely difficult one to make. However, this is part of a financial corrections plan that will help Grace Cottage be proactive as we prepare for the changes that the Affordable Care Act will bring about, including declining reimbursements and changes in how health care is delivered. With cuts in various types of reimbursements and increased expenses related to regulatory requirements, we must implement a cost-reduction program in order to continue to be a team player with other regional health care providers."

She also said Grace Cottage is not alone in making such cuts.

"All hospitals around the state and nation are experiencing these pressures," Boyle said. "As Grace Cottage prepares for the future, we want to be sure that we will continue to provide Grace Cottage's nationally-recognized patient-centered care."

The hospital also is implementing other cost reductions including freezing overtime, travel and any new hiring that is not approved by the chief executive officer.

Mike Faher can be reached at mfaher@reformer.com or 802-254-2311, ext. 275.