Thursday, March 22, 2001

Hamilton cuts loom from Mercy closing

By Earnest Winston
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        HAMILTON — City officials are poised to cut services following Tuesday's news that Mercy Hospital Hamilton will close by June.

        “I'm confident that we are going to have to make service reductions, but I do not know where those are as yet,” City Manager Steve Sorrell said. “It could be parks, health, engineering, or it could be police or fire.”

        Mercy Health Partners said the move occurred because Hamilton could not support two full-service hospitals with more than 400 beds combined, when the city needs only a hospital with 135 beds.

        The network plans to find jobs for the 630 employees at its other regional facilities, including Mercy Franciscan at St. Raphael Social Service Center and Mercy Franciscan Schroder Retirement Community, both in Hamilton.Other jobs could be absorbed by Fort Hamil ton Hospital.

        The 630 jobs represent more than $400,000 that could be lost in city income-tax revenues.

        City officials say it's difficult to calculate the full financial impact of the decision.

        " “It'll be 30 to 60 days before I can get that all together,” Mr. Sorrell said.

        Vice Mayor Tom Nye said it's premature to discuss what, if any, services will be reduced before hearing from each department on how they will be affected by the loss of jobs through attrition, and a hiring freeze.

        City Council last month had to make up a $1.5 million shortfall in the $32.7 million general fund, which was part of the $226 million budget for 2001.

        The deficit, resulting largely from lost payroll taxes, after hundreds of jobs were cut by Ohio Casualty Group and International Paper, was absorbed in part by cuts to city programs and a hiring freeze.


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