Jobs went under the knife as Sharon Regional Health System announced Wednesday it had laid off 87 people.
That, coupled with the layoff of 400 United States Investigation Services workers in the Grove City area Tuesday, means close to 500 jobs were axed in the area this week.
The combined layoffs may be the biggest to hit Mercer County’s nonmanufacturing job sector in living memory.
Rumors of impending layoffs at the health-care provider have been spreading among employees for more than a week. While employees said there was talk the school of nursing would close, that didn’t transpire, Sharon Regional said.
Jobs cut were mostly office positions and included employees with long tenures, some with more than 33 years service.
In a statement, Sharon Regional said it had reviewed its services, reimbursements, patient usage and community demographics.
“Our inpatient volumes have declined in recent years and we are being paid less, so we are making changes to operate more efficiently, reduce costs and provide the most-needed services,” the statement noted.
Job cuts were in administrative, technical, clerical and support roles, with only a limited number of clinical or direct patient care positions, the statement added.
“We value the skills and service of each individual and regret that the reductions are necessary,” the statement continued. “Sharon Regional Health System is important to this community and we are committed to effective and efficient operations to ensure our long-term viability. We remain focused on caring for our patients with safe, quality care and a personalized experience.’’
The layoff announcement comes about three weeks after chief executive officer John R. Janoso announced he was resigning to take the sane post at non-profit Fairfield Medical Center in Lancaster, Ohio. It was the third time in a little more than three years that a Sharon Regional chief executive officer had left the 251-bed-hospital system.
Before the cuts, Sharon Regional said it had about 1,750 full- and part-time employees, making it Mercer County’s largest employer. The company said Wednesday its workforce had more than 1,100 full-time equivalent jobs.
Sharon Regional was sold earlier this year to Community Health Systems Inc., a for-profit company based in Tennessee.
Job eliminations in health care have been common over the past year as more parts of the federal Affordable Care Act have been enacted. The law seeks to reduce health costs and make health insurance more affordable.
“Every health system across the board, including hospitals, are laying off people,’’ said Angela Palumbo, manager of the Mercer County CareerLink. “This is not unique to Mercer County.’’
The layoffs at USIS had been expected since early September. The federal Office of Personnel Management announced last month it was not renewing two contracts with the company, both set to expire Sept. 30. The contracts were for background checks of federal employees.
The terminations announced Tuesday eliminated more than 2,500 USIS jobs across the country.
USIS employed 400 in the greater Grove City area, a figure based on statistics compiled by the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry and Penn-Northwest Development Corp., Mercer County’s lead economic development agency.
In a statement, USIS said it believed most of its furloughed workers would be rehired by a company that would get the federal background checks contracts. As of Wednesday, the Office of Personnel Management said it had not yet awarded those contracts.