St. Luke's Magic Valley - State of the system address

Mike Fenello, site administrator at St. Luke's Magic Valley Medical Center, introduces Dr. David Pate during a 'State of the System' address in August 2018 at St. Luke's Magic Valley in Twin Falls. 

TWIN FALLS — The St. Luke’s Health System — which includes hospitals in Twin Falls, Jerome and Ketchum — is undergoing a major restructuring, including some layoffs.

Health system leaders say the change is meant to better facilitate a goal of focusing on community health and lowering health care costs.

Affected south-central Idaho employees were notified beginning two weeks ago — starting with site administrators — and the process will likely wrap up this week with some nursing leadership roles.

Across the health system, fewer than 1 percent of about 14,000 employees will lose their jobs, St. Luke’s officials say. They have the option of applying for new jobs within the health system.

In Twin Falls, Jerome and Wood River Valley, though, St. Luke’s is the only hospital. Other south-central Idaho hospitals are North Canyon Medical Center in Gooding, Cassia Regional Hospital in Burley and Minidoka Memorial Hospital in Rupert.

Some St. Luke’s employees will fill new roles, or see consolidated or expanded job duties. Changes could save the health system millions of dollars annually, St. Luke’s Health System chief operating officer Chris Roth told the Idaho Statesman.

One of the biggest changes: Site administrator jobs have been eliminated. Instead, there’s a chief operating officer/chief nursing officer overseeing day-to-day operations at each hospital.

Mike Fenello, who was previously site administrator at St. Luke’s Magic Valley, is now vice president of population health. He’s among three people in that role for the St. Luke’s Health System and he focuses specifically on the Magic Valley, Jerome and Wood River Valley.

Jerome site administrator Curtis Maier and Wood River site administrator Cody Langbehn were laid off and have the opportunity to apply for new job positions that have been created, Fenello said Monday.

Arlen Blaylock is now the chief operating officer/chief nursing officer for Magic Valley and Jerome, and site leaders are Jill Howell in Jerome and Carmen Jacobsen in Wood River Valley.

The restructuring isn’t a reaction to a short-term financial problem, Fenello said, but a way to decrease bureaucracy and better use employees’ time.

It’s also a way to better communicate decisions throughout the St. Luke’s Health System, he said, and implement best practices, and new programs and services more quickly and broadly so all communities are better served.

The St. Luke’s Health System is completely redesigning the organization to better execute its strategy, Fenello said. “Our fundamental strategy is rooted in tackling the issue of the high cost of health care.”

St. Luke’s is being proactive in working to improve the quality of patient care and safety, he said. Another focus is to try to make sure the emergency room isn’t the default place for patients to go to get care unless they absolutely need it.

Blaylock said Monday he’s excited about the change, but recognizes the impact to employees.

St. Luke’s leaders have talked for years about trying to improve patient outcomes and lower costs, including moving away from a fee-for-service model.

Fee-for-service is the traditional model in health care where a patient comes in for a doctor’s appointment or x-ray, for example, and receives a bill for those services. A value-based model holds the health system accountable for patient outcomes and the cost of care, and a hospital’s payment is tied to that.

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