Eastern State Hospital To Drop 65 Employees

Jul 8, 2013

LEXINGTON, Ky. -- Eastern State Hospital will lay off as many as 65 employees as the psychiatric hospital moves to a new $129 million campus in Lexington. But, officials say, most of those losing a job may to reapply for work at the new facility.

Bluegrass.org interim CEO David Hanna told the Lexington Herald-Leader employees affected by the layoffs have been notified, but written notices will be sent this week.

In January, Gov. Steve Beshear announced that University of Kentucky HealthCare would operate and manage the new Eastern State Hospital, which is scheduled to open in early September.

From Aug. 15 through June 30, UK will be paid $34.7 million through a contract with the state Cabinet for Health and Family Services. Thereafter, the university would be paid about $43 million annually. The Bluegrass Regional Mental Health-Mental Retardation Board, now known as Bluegrass.org, has operated Eastern State Hospital since 1995.

Those receiving layoff notices from Bluegrass.org include workers in the security, lab and engineering departments. Those positions are being switched to the university payroll, said school spokeswoman Kristi Lopez. The laid-off Bluegrass.org employees will be given strong consideration for the new positions with the school, she said.

Of the positions affected by layoffs, 26 jobs in dietary and food service will be shifted to Morrison Health Care Food Services, which has been hired by UK to manage the new facility's dietary division, Lopez said. Those employees will have to go through the Morrison application process and background checks.

Overall, the number of employees will increase from 475 at the current hospital to about 518 in the new facility, Lopez said. UK will pay Bluegrass.org to continue to provide about 425 employees, including nurses and psychologists, social workers and direct-care staff.

The new hospital at the University of Kentucky's Coldstream Research Campus will have 239 beds. It will provide inpatient psychiatric and behavioral health treatment.

The facility replaces the pre-Civil War-era Eastern State, the second-oldest psychiatric hospital in the country. That property is slated to become the new campus for Bluegrass Community and Technical College.