St. Pat's

An abrupt end



As St. Patrick Hospital moves forward with its $5 million restructuring plan, stories of layoffs at Missoula's second largest employer continue to emerge. Char Houska, a registered nurse, spent 21 years as an employee at St. Patrick Hospital before her job disappeared.

"I walk in one day, walk down to HR and they say my job was eliminated," Houska says. "We were told there were layoffs happening and I guess when you are told that you wonder if you will be one of them. You never know who it is going to be."

She says no one told her why she was laid off.

Houska served as the breast care coordinator at the hospital, a non-union position. Her duties included providing "breast cancer education and support to newly diagnosed patients," according to the hospital's website. She was laid off in mid-October, during breast cancer awareness month.

Hospital administrators remain adamant in their refusal to provide detailed information about the continued restructuring.

"We won't be following through with any answers on that," says JoAnn Hoven, a hospital spokeswoman. "... We don't think it is necessarily news."

Even employees at the hospital are often unaware when someone is let go, according to Houska.

"They do not give names of who is laid off, they don't tell the remaining employees who was laid off," Houska says. "You don't see someone for a while and you wonder what happened and then you hear through the grapevine."

Houska says she recently applied to two job openings at the hospital, but was not able to obtain work. She still hopes to find a job there.

"I don't know if I will ever get hired back at St. Pat's but there always is a hope and maybe a chance, and it is definitely not something that I want to give up completely," she says.

According to a November press release, the hospital is "aggressively working to save nearly $5 million" by the end of March 2014.

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