East Bay News

MuirLab being sold, hundreds facing layoffs

Thursday, September 05, 2013

It could be the largest layoff of its kind in Contra Costa County in an industry that is otherwise growing. John Muir Health has announced it is selling off its outpatient labs. MuirLab serves Contra Costa, Alameda and Solano counties. Hundreds of employees could lose their jobs.

Layoffs in general have actually leveled off here in Contra Costa County in recent months, which is probably little consolation to those who work here at MuirLab. I'm told that many of them will move on with the company that's buying the lab. But many of their colleagues will not.

Scott Bement is one of nearly 200 employees who work at the main MuirLab facility in North Concord, a complex that will close by the end of the year.

"The uncertainty and everything up until this point has been pretty hard on them, but now that we have an official announcement, people may have on opportunity to get on with things," he said.

John Muir Health has sold MuirLab to LabCorp, which already has a large presence in the East Bay.

"We have gotten frequent complaints both from patients and physicians about the cost of our lab services," John Muir Health spokesperson Ben Drew said.

Drew tells ABC7 News that MuirLab could no longer compete in an increasingly tight marketplace dominated by a few large companies.

"This is not reflective of the work that they've done," Drew said. "It's simply the realities of what we're facing in a very competitive lab services industry."

While the 56,000 square foot facility in North Concord will close, MuirLab's 26 patient service centers in Northern California will stay open under new ownership.

LabCorp has assured the 540 employees of MuirLab that they will hire at least 150 of them, perhaps many more. That includes many of the couriers and phlebotomists that currently work for Muir.

A courier supervisor, Roger Wagar is relieved many jobs will be saved, but worries for himself and others who may soon be out of work.

"John Muir Health in general and MuirLab in particular have been such good employers that we've had people who've been her a long, long time so they've set the bar pretty high so it'll be interesting to see what it's going to be like in the future," Wagar said.

One benefit to patients, MuirLab expects that LabCorp will be able to offer the same services at lower prices.

(Copyright ©2014 KGO-TV. All Rights Reserved.)

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Tags:
concord, alameda county, contra costa county, solano county, health care, layoff, east bay news, laura anthony
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