A Mason City-based hospital is restructuring its home health care and hospice programs, eliminating nearly 60 jobs. Mercy Medical Center-North Iowa will close facilities in Rockwell and Forest City, but all 59 people affected by the changes will be offered other jobs within the company.

Diane Fischels, the hospital’s vice president of operations, says it was a tough decision to trim back services, but it’s hoped it will not lead to any layoffs. She says Mercy employees are the most important part of the organization. While some employees may be in different positions than what they are used to, she says the hospital is happy to be able to provide jobs in other sectors of the organization.

Fischels says there are number of factors impacting Mercy — and many other hospitals nationwide. She says there are several economic issues that have hampered hospitals, including the downturn on the stock market, rising costs of caring for the unemployed and uninsured, as well as the decrease in demand for non-essential services with people delaying medical procedures.

As part of the restructuring, Hospice of North Iowa will reduce the geography of its service area and close its Forest City office. Mercy Home Care will be reduced in scope from serving 12 north-central Iowa counties to just two, Cerro Gordo and Floyd. Also, the Mercy Family Clinic in Rockwell will close.

The clinic is now open three half-days per week. Patients will have the opportunity to go to a Mercy Clinic in Sheffield, Rockford, or another provider.