By David Schuman

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Major changes are coming to the M Health Fairview hospital system, including the elimination of hundreds of positions.

Emily Allen, a nurse at Bethesda Hospital in St. Paul, learned along with her colleagues Monday morning that about 900 positions are being eliminated systemwide by the end of the year.

She says she doesn’t know her job status.

“I’m honestly just in shock right now at all of this news,” Allen said. “I don’t even have words right now. I’m so sad.”

Joe Campbell, Fairview’s assistant director of communications, says Fairview will lose $250 million this year.

“It’s never easy to lose any employee,” he said. “It’s especially hard to lose 900 employees. The good part is we have 1,200 open positions, many in a clinical setting.”

According to Fairview, one of the big changes include St. Joseph Hospital being reimagined as a “community hub of health and wellness.” Fairview says the hospital in its current form does not appropriately meet the needs of the community.

“The only services provided at St. Joseph’s moving forward will be COVID care and in-patient mental health services,” Campbell said. “The types of specialty services provided at St. Joseph’s will move to St. John’s Hospital and Woodwinds Hospital.”

As part of the changes, Bethesda Hospital is being leased to Ramsey County to help address the homelessness crisis, pending Ramsey County Board approval. A lease agreement is expected to be addressed this week at the Ramsey County Board meeting. COVID-19 patients there will be transferred to St. Joseph’s by the end of the year.

Allen doesn’t believe right before flu season is the best time for these changes, given the unpredictable nature of the pandemic.

“It could be a couple weeks where [the number of COVID patients is] kind of down, and a couple weeks later we need to open the third ICU again,” she said.

Fairview is also closing 14 clinics in Minnesota and two in Wisconsin in order to consolidate and expand services at more than 40 other clinics and primary care locations.

Fairview says the changes won’t affect overall patient capacity across the system, and it doesn’t expect more layoffs in the near future.

M Health Fairview is comprised of Fairview Health Services, University of Minnesota Physicians, and the University of Minnesota. 

David Schuman