Had breakfast this morning with some of the people I used to work with. It’s been nearly a month since the latest layoff that we all knew was coming. My own job was terminated in this last “reduction of hours,” as they referred to it, and my final day was two weeks ago. Most of us were hired for a brand-new hospital that opened in the summer of 2005. Of that team, only three people remain, including our original supervisor. The rest are either unemployed or saw the writing on the wall and found new jobs ahead of time.
It was fun getting together with everybody in a non-work setting. We’re all going to stay in touch and keep meeting every two months or so. Martha brought Madeline, the puppy she’s raising for Guide Dogs for the Blind. I’ll reference her blog here; if you scroll down a bit, there’s an adorable photo of Madeline sleeping, just like she did at the restaurant while the rest of us ate.
A new software program at work had the unexpected side effect of giving me a hand injury. I’m getting better every day now without the intense keyboarding. I haven’t decided what I’m going to do next and am taking time to de-stress and give myself a break before I make any decisions. Meanwhile, I’m re-claiming my office and turning it back into the serene, cozy haven it once was in the days when I had to drive to work in Clackamas County.
Two days ago, my work sent one of our department teams home without pay and sent the work out to an outside service. This morning, we got notice that those people are being laid off so the work they do can be sent to an outside vendor. All the circuitous, wordy attempts to sugar-coat the decision with corporate bleating about revenue cycles and the good of the organization can’t begin to mitigate the ugliness going on. The few of us who are still employed are heartsick for our co-workers. We’re all waiting for the ax to fall.
Over a year ago, the company where I work bought a new software package that they believed would eliminate the need for most of the people in our department. Anticipating this, they laid people off, only to find that though it’s a decent piece of software in its own right, the sales claims about how much it could do were grossly exaggerated. To make a long story short, with fewer people, the work piled up, and rather than hire back the experienced old employees, they started outsourcing the work to another “service.”
Another software system designed to further automate our work went “live” yesterday. Each of us got perhaps 10 minutes of hands-on training. When it was my turn at the console, I asked an innocent question that turned out to be most awkward for the trainer. “How do I navigate from field to field when I’m filling out this document?” Ooops. Every answer he gave made things go horribly wrong. The cursor did not jump to the next field, and the field started to grow and began spreading across the screen. “I’ll get back to you on that, “he promised, “but your time’s up now.”
Today, ominously, our work trickled down to nothing. Most of the employees were sent home, forced to go without pay or use vacation time, because the company has a contract with the outsourcing firm. What work there is must be given to them instead of to the actual staff. I’ve never been in this situation before; in every other place I’ve worked, when we’re caught up, they discontinue the outside service.
I had to stay, though; it was my job to keep checking on the new application that is meant to replace me. It sat frozen on my computer screen like a bloated and very dead Frankenstein monster, expected any minute now to snap to life and start working, but nothing has happened for two days. Other than that, there was very little to do; the work just wasn’t there.
I just got an email from COBRA about “affordable” medical coverage when I lose my job. It’s starting to feel like the Twilight Zone around here.