Mercy Health System of Maine is reorganizing and eliminating 75 positions, partly in response to the continued economic slowdown and a decline in patient traffic at its hospital.

Mercy also plans to add about 40 new positions over the next six to eight months in its primary care and specialty care centers, which continue to expand. A new primary and express care center recently opened in Gorham and another is scheduled to open early next year in the Yarmouth and Cumberland area.

Some of the hospital staff members who face layoffs may fill new positions, and employees who are not placed will receive severance packages and outplacement assistance, the company said. The overall reduction amounts to about 2 percent of Mercy’s 1,657 employees.

Mercy’s announcement today follows the elimination of 58 positions in March. About half of the workers affected by those cuts moved into new jobs within expanding areas of the company, a spokeswoman said.

The ongoing reorganization is partly in response to declining patient volume in some areas, as people have deferred elective procedures for economic reasons or received care in an outpatient setting instead of being admitted to the hospital.

It also reflects a long-term move toward more technologically advanced systems, modern facilities and coordinated care, according to the company.

“Mercy is built on a foundation of concern for individuals and for our community, so any reduction in staffing is particularly painful,” Eileen Skinner, president & CEO of Mercy, said in a written statement.

“We believe that being proactive is crucial for all health care organizations at this time of rapid change, in both our health care system and our economy,” she said. “We have been working over the past year to realign responsibilities, reorganize processes, reduce costs and redeploy capital to ensure the highest level of care and service to patients with an appropriate cost structure from the top down.”

Skinner said changes taking place in the health care industry, as well as the economy, require innovation. “In addition,” she said, “we have a duty to the community and local businesses, which are also tightening their belts, to provide the best care value to our patients.”

Mercy Health System of Maine has hospital services at its Fore River, State Street, and Westbrook campuses, primary and specialty care practices in communities throughout southern Maine and community-based services such as VNA Home Health & Hospice.