PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – After laying off some senior executives earlier this week, the other shoe fell on Friday when the West Penn Allegheny Health System — now owned by Highmark — announced lay-offs at Allegheny General Hospital, West Penn Hospital and some mid-level managers.

The system says they are laying off 262 employees and eliminating another 200 vacant positions.

Why? In order to right-size the institution to serve current patient needs, officials say.

“All successful businesses right-size continuously,” Allegheny Health System spokesman Dan Laurent told KDKA money editor Jon Delano.

Laurent called the right-sizing painful but necessary, representing about two percent of the workforce at the two major local hospitals.

Delano: “Right-sizing is just a fancy way of saying you’re laying off people?”

Laurent: “Sure, we need our workforce to reflect the patient volume that we have, and that’s what we’ve done.”

Delano: “Well, that suggests that you’ve lost patients?”

Laurent: “We have. We have. It’s well-known that our patient volumes have been down. We’re making great progress, enhancing the services of this network, but it’s going to take some time to do that and this was a critical first step.”

Laurent says the lay-offs do not affect many directly involved with patient care like nurses and technicians.

“There was relatively few patient caregivers affected by it,” he said.

Rescued from closure by Highmark and now under new leadership — the Allegheny Health Network is positioning itself to compete against healthcare giant UPMC.

“We take our responsibilities as stewards of this charitable organization seriously, and we are making the changes that will insure that we are a vital and sustainable health care resource for this community for the long-term,” noted Laurent.

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