State cuts 112 positions at Eastern State Hospital

Wednesday, January 5th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

TULSA, Okla. (AP) -- The state has given notice to 112 employees at Eastern State Hospital that they will be let go under a plan to push clients out of the hospital and into community-based settings. The Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services posted the notices Tuesday and will be holding meetings to explain the cuts to affected employees.

Some of the posts at the Vinita hospital will be eliminated by March 11 while others will be gone by June 30, said department spokeswoman Rosemary Brown. Morale at the hospital is low, said Jean Burnett of the Oklahoma Public Employees Association. She said many employees are being told they will have to pay back severance packages if they are fired and then get a job with another state agency. Ms. Burnett said the severance packages include employees' next longevity checks, a lump payment of $1,600 each, half of their sick leave, money equaling 18 months of health insurance premiums and annual leave.

Drucilla Green-Heltzel, the hospital's contracting and acquisition agent, said she plans to take the offered severance package and retire after 26 years on the job. "It will be hard on the people who are left," she said. "We are shorthanded now, and we will continue to work short-handed