Hospital cuts staff, hires robots to save costs

El Camino Hospital in Los Gatos and Mountain View, Calif. said it plans to lay off 140 employees by the end of October in an attempt to save money. The hospital sent out warning notices to 195 employees, reports San Jose Mercury News.

There are approximately 460 employees in Los Gatos and 2,600 in Mountain View.

The staff cuts are due to a continued decline in patient activity and a drop in revenues during Fiscal Year 2010, El Camino Hospital said in a statement. Yet, many are blaming hospital administration, inflexible unions and El Camino's decision to purchase the Community Hospital of Los Gatos last year for the layoffs, reports the Mountain View Voice.

One hospital employee told the Voice that the hospital could have prevented the cuts "through more prudent management."

In a separate move to reduce costs, El Camino has leased 19 robots from Aethon. The robots--which reportedly save time and increase surgery success--deliver medications, lab samples, food and supplies around the hospital, reports Businessweek.

Hiring 19 humans to make those deliveries would have cost El Camino more than $1 million a year, according to Ken King, vice-president of facilities and support services. Leasing the robots, on the other hand, only costs $350,000 a year. According to Aethon CEO Aldo Zini, the robots offer other advantages: "They don't take breaks and vacation and you don't have to pay them benefits."

For more:
- read the San Jose Mercury News article 1 and article 2
- here's the article in Mountain View Voice
- read about a report on robots on
- read the Businessweek brief

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