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Long Island

Few layoffs seen at Stony Brook hospital

Stony Brook University Medical Center officials say they will still need to reduce staff even though the state's final 2011-12 budget did not cut funding as deeply as Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo's earlier proposal.

But the number of employees who could be laid off will be small -- not nearly the 500 to 700 positions discussed last month -- and much of the downsizing will be achieved through attrition, said hospital president Dr. Steven Strongwater.

"We aren't going to be anywhere near that number," said Strongwater, who declined to say the exact number of layoffs.

The hospital originally stood to lose $55 million in direct state funding in addition to the cuts to Medicaid, the state-federal insurance program for the low-income and people with disabilities.

Strongwater believes $26 million will be restored to the medical center, part of more than $80 million lawmakers returned to the SUNY hospitals during the budget process, though the Medicaid cuts still stand.

The hospital's clinical programs will remain intact, including the burn unit and inpatient, children's psychiatric unit.

Hospital officials are making every effort to cut spending in areas other than staff.

The planned layoffs are awaiting state approval. Employees probably won't be notified for several weeks, Strongwater said.

Union leaders say employees are worried.

"We have a lot of single parents and they are worried about paying their mortgages and what their economic future will be like," said Carlos Speight, president of the Civil Service Employees Association Local 614.

CSEA represents 2,800 employees including licensed practical nurses, clerks and maintenance workers. The union's current contract expired April 1.

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