York Hospital said it will cut expenses by 3 percent, $4.8 million a year, through a range of steps such as developing a centralized appointment center, reducing contracts and supply costs and adjusting staffing schedules to handle fluctuating patient volumes.

“We’re being asked to do more with less,” said York Hospital President Jud Knox in a memo to employees. “We’re looking at many ways to save money.”

York Hospital, which includes a 79-bed acute care hospital, 18 physician offices and five outpatient centers, said it won’t lay off any of its 1,200 employees. Hospital spokeswoman Dawn Fernald said, however, that schedules may be adjusted to handle changes in patient volume.

Other changes include standardizing technology used across all facilities and starting a walk-in care service.

In addition to the larger, long-term efforts to cut costs, York Hospital recently made short-term cuts. For example, for a 90-day period, no employee can accrue vacation time, Fernald said.

Management, including Knox, took a 10 percent salary cut and doctors under contract were asked to take a voluntary pay cut of 9 percent, Fernald said.

York Hospital recently lost its “preferred provider” status for state workers. Under that system, state employees are directed to go to certain hospitals and caregivers as a way to manage costs. York Hospital fell off that list in February and is working to be reinstated. York Hospital said it was not given a reason for being taken off the list, but the timing coincided with new criteria about costs, Fernald said.

Hospitals statewide face significant pressure to cut costs, says the Maine Hospital Association. Hospitals are struggling with higher free-care costs because of a growing population of uninsured and under-insured people, as well as slower patient volume and debt of $460 million as they continue to serve Medicaid patients without being fully reimbursed by the state, said Jeff Austin, a lobbyist for the hospital association.

Last month, MaineGeneral Medical Center in Augusta said it would trim 47 positions as a cost-cutting measure to stay within its almost $400 million operating budget for the next fiscal year. Goodall Hospital in Sanford cut salaries and benefits from March 2009 through June 2010 to avoid job cuts. Salaries were later made whole and workers got a one-time cash payment to thank them, the hospital said on its website.

Staff Writer Jessica Hall can be contacted at 791-6316 or at:

[email protected]