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Fargo psychiatric hospital cuts 16 positions

Several employees lost their jobs Thursday at Prairie St. John's Hospital in Fargo.

Sixteen positions were eliminated from the Prairie St. John's hospital and clinic staff of 400 full- and part-time workers, said Karen Engel, director of business development.

"Actual people impacted was less than 10," said Tom Eide, Prairie St. John's chief financial officer.

The remaining slots represent open positions recently vacated through attrition that will not be replaced, Eide said.

Positions eliminated Thursday included office personnel and caretaker staff at the Fargo Prairie St. John's 89-bed psychiatric hospital, 510 4th St. S., and at a Moorhead clinic at 2925 20th St. S.

Prairie St. John's was purchased in September by Psychiatric Solutions Inc., based in Franklin, Tenn.

At that time, Eide said the influx of capital from PSI would allow Prairie St. John's opportunities to expand staff, services and possibly physical space.

"Actually, that still is our goal," Eide said Thursday. "We're dealing with a corporate initiative" from PSI to increase efficiency, he said.

"This is more of a corporatewide initiative than just a Fargo facility initiative," Eide said. "We are very pleased with the overall performance in the Fargo facility."

Eide said he doesn't expect more job cuts. "We weren't really anticipating doing this one. Corporate issues kind of prompted that."

The patient census at Prairie St. John's has been good, he said, averaging more than 150 patients daily at the hospital and residential outpatient locations.

"We're fortunate that we're doing as well as we are here locally," Eide said, noting that the national economy has been a concern across corporate levels.

"One of the concerns long term is just the efficiency with which we do our business outside of our patient care," he said.

A longer-term concern involves future payment levels from insurance companies and other programs, he said.

TSI, with 10,000 beds in 31 states, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, is the nation's largest operator of freestanding psychiatric inpatient facilities.