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U. to close Mt. Ogden clinic

75 layoffs there are among 108 total along the Wasatch Front

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The University of Utah Health Network is eliminating 108 positions and closing its Mount Ogden Medical Center as a way of coping with financial cuts from the federal government and HMOs. The network announced the changes Thursday.

The Ogden center closure, effective Sept. 30, involves 75 people, including six physicians and three midlevel practitioners. It serves approximately 6,000 patients. Other cuts are to be spread across the network's nine other facilities along the Wasatch Front and include 16 physicians and nine midlevel practitioners.

The reductions represent about 12 percent of the work force, leaving 782 employees.

The Mount Ogden center is the network's northernmost facility, and its operations will be consolidated into the network's Davis County Medical Center, adjacent to Davis Hospital in Layton.

The actions announced Thursday are expected to save $6 million annually, according to Dr. Michael Magill, UUHN board chairman. The network, like other academic/medical institutions across the country, is facing reductions in Medicare reimbursements and HMO payment for medical care and support for medical education, Magill said.

"This is something we've been concerned about for the past few months," Magill said. "We've been seeing the effects of funding cuts, and the growth has been less than we had hoped for, particularly at the Mount Ogden facility."

Magill said the network plans no further cuts. "This is a midcourse correction in a long haul," he said. "The intent is we go forward with this and expect to be thriving for the long term."

He noted that other academic/medical institutions, such as UCLA and Harvard, are facing similar situations. "This is not something exclusive to UUHN but nationwide forces that are giving trouble to UCLA, Stanford, the Medical College of Pennsylvania. One after another is faced with much more difficult and dramatic challenges. Much for for us, this is a mid-course correction. We're actually fortunate to be doing well, compared to sister institutions around the country."

Doctors and staff have received 35-day notice of the Mount Ogden closing and will get 30 more days of severance pay. UUHN is arranging outplacement help for the released employees and offering practitioners the chance to continue practicing independently at the Mount Ogden Center.

UUHN is based in Salt Lake City. Its other medical centers are the Greenwood Medical Center, Midvale; Holladay Adult Medicine and Holladay Women's Center, both in Salt Lake City; Park City Family Health & Emergency Center; Parkway Medical Center, Orem; Redwood Medical Center, Salt Lake City; Stansbury Medical Center; Summit Medical Center, Park City; and Westridge Medical Center, Salt Lake City.

E-MAIL: bwallace@desnews.com