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JUDGE OKS LAYOFFS OF 20 MORE AT ALDEN JAIL
ONLY TWO DOZEN AT ECMC WILL GET DISMISSAL NOTICES

A State Supreme Court justice Friday allowed the layoff of 20 more corrections officers at Alden Correctional Facility, a week after he put those layoffs on hold.

After hearing arguments from the Civil Service Employees Association that the layoffs jeopardize safety, Judge Joseph G. Makowski allowed the employees to be let go, at midnight, as a way for Erie County to deal with its financial crisis.

Corrections officers worry that the layoffs of 20 more people at Alden will again drive up the need for overtime shifts as the staff is stretched to meet supervision ratios set by the state Commission of Correction.

Sheriff Patrick M. Gallivan said the layoffs won't create an immediate problem.

"In the short-term future, it'll mean a little more overtime for the others," he said, but cautioned that the overall jail division will need to economize so it doesn't run out of money before year's end.

Gallivan said 44 of his employees, including the 20 at Alden, would be laid off at midnight Friday.

Meanwhile, Erie County Medical Center officials notified nearly two dozen people Friday that they would be laid off as part of a plan to save the hospital corporation $5.3 million for the remainder of this year.

Chief Executive Officer Michael Young had said Thursday that about 100 hospital employees would be laid off and that beds in the hospital's nursing home wing would be cut, but hospital officials said Friday that those statements were premature.

Overall, the hospital's cost-cutting measures will not be nearly as dire as initially portrayed, they said.

Based on union constraints and a high number of vacant positions, 105 full-time equivalent positions will be eliminated from the hospital, said Karen Maricle, the hospital's chief operating officer.

Those lost positions will translate into 19 to 23 actual layoffs at the hospital and the Erie County Home, because most of the positions being eliminated are currently vacant, she said.

"This reduction in work force will not have an impact on the quality of patient care provided at ECMC," Maricle said. "We did not eliminate any position of direct nursing care providers."

While initial plans called for the elimination of 150 positions, because of union constraints and other factors only about 105 positions will be abolished -- 64 at the hospital and 41 at the Erie County Home.

The job cuts resulted in 24 layoffs, but four of the more-tenured employees were offered jobs in other currently vacant job titles, in keeping with union bumping rights, Maricle said.

Two physicians, both pathologists who do not offer direct patient care, are among those losing their jobs, she said. No nurses were laid off.

In addition, while the hospital will be closing off 10 hospital beds in ECMC's psychiatric unit, Maricle said the overall unit is still very large, and she did not believe those beds would be missed. Beds in the nursing home wing will not be affected.

Finally, Maricle said, the hospital plans to cut other costs and raise revenue by more closely monitoring overtime, restructuring relationships with some doctors and expanding its core medical programs.

ECMC is also still considering the closure of its obstetrics and gynecology clinic, she said.

e-mail: stan@buffnews.com
and mspina@buffnews.com

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