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90 percent of job losses come in Fargo-Moorhead

- JOBS: Ninety people lost their jobs, 90 had hours reduced, 120 vacant positions were eliminated, and 70 more people will lose transcription jobs by Oct. 1.

- FACILITIES: Clinic in LaMoure, N.D., closing while hours cut at clinics in Twin Valley and Ulen, Minn.

- BUDGET: Employee cuts will save about $9.2 million in salaries and benefits.

Ninety percent of the jobs eliminated by MeritCare Health System are in the Fargo-Moorhead community, the organization's administrators said Tuesday.

To reduce costs, MeritCare cut 20 positions in management, 144 nonmedical skilled professional and technical jobs, 50 nurses and 60 clerical positions.

Some of those positions are not currently filled or will soon be vacant because of retirements.

The 90 employees who lost jobs Thursday received severance packages that included benefits, information on unemployment insurance and access to counseling, said Dr. Roger Gilbertson, MeritCare's president and chief executive officer.

"We are aware of how this affects their lives and livelihoods," he said. "We will support them in any way we can."

Another 70 employees in MeritCare's transcription department will lose their jobs between now and Oct. 1. Many of those will be offered jobs by Nuance, a Massachusetts-based company that will handle the health system's transcriptions, said Dr. Bruce Pitts, executive vice president of clinical services.

Employees who lost jobs may apply for any of the 140 positions open in the MeritCare system, said Harriette McCaul, chief human resources officer.

MeritCare is still actively recruiting doctors, nurses and other positions in patient care areas, she said.

For example, there are 38 registered nurse and 11 licensed practical nurse openings. Those jobs might not require the same skills or interests of those whose positions were cut, she said.

Two positions eliminated in the outstate region were at the LaMoure, N.D., clinic, which is open for appointments three days a week, McCaul said. It will close June 30. A call to that clinic's office manager was not returned immediately Thursday.

Counselors from Job Service North Dakota met with between 30 and 40 MeritCare employees on Thursday, said Marty Aas, the agency's Fargo area manager.

He's confident many of the employees who lost jobs will find new ones.

"It might not be doing the same thing for the same wage, but we have employers looking for those work skills," he said.

Job Service has 1,500 health-care openings posted in the state, 400 of those in the southeastern corner, he said.