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CALAIS, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- Calais Regional Hospital is half a million dollars in the red for this fiscal year. In order to reach a break-even budget by the end of the year the hospital will be making some painful cuts. This includes layoffs and reduced hours for roughly 30-percent of the hospital's staff. The hospital points to a steady decline in patients coming in for care along with an increase in charity care, unpaid patient bills, and changes in reimbursement.

Spokesperson Dee Dee Travis with Calais Regional said the changes need to be made, "We cant continue to lose money and keep our doors open. It's very important for us to maintain our presence and take care of our community."

The cuts have affected 86 staff members from 26 departments. This includes four permanent layoffs.

According to the Maine State Nurses Association, twelve union members made up of registered nurses and lab staff were given hour reduction letters. This would bring the employees from full-time to part-time.

In a statement Valerie Sylvester with MSNA said, "We do not believe these cuts and the way they were handled were appropriate...We have started an investigation into the practices of the hospital."

According to Sylvester, the investigation will look into the hospital's transferring of patients to Eastern Maine Medical Center, the billing and spending practices, as well as CRH's contract with an out-of-state management service.

The union also questions how its members were told of the hourly reductions and questions if their contracts were followed.

The hospital, however, stands by its actions.

Travis said, "We have not tried to by step it by any means. We take the contract very seriously with any of our staff and trying to abide by it."

The two groups will be meeting on Wednesday to discuss where the hospital goes from here.

Travis confirmed this is an ongoing process to find more areas to make cuts and at this point the hospital does not know if more layoffs or hourly reductions are in the future.

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