OTTAWA, Ont. – Big changes are coming for the Ottawa Hospital.

The hospital is undergoing a major operation to cure a $31-million deficit, by removing nearly 300 jobs from its payroll.

It’s a painful cure, but the hospital insists patient care will not suffer as a result of the restructuring.

The equivalent of 290 full-time positions are being eliminated from the hospital’s 7,700 full-time staff. The cuts include 90 nursing positions, 100 other health professionals, including physical and occupational therapists, and another 100 administrative and support staff.

“Anyone who comes to our emergency department or needs urgent services will receive the same quality care,” said Dr. Jack Kitts, President and CEO. “But the service may be different.”

Dr. Kitts admits, patients may notice changes in how they get the care they receive at the hospital.

“It may be different people than they may have been used to in the past, but it still will be quality (care),” he said.

However, one union representing about a third of the workers impacted by the job cuts, says patient care will be affected, and that their members are feeling the heat.

“In the last couple of years we’ve lost 270 positions, so it’s getting up there right?” said Bruce Waller of CUPE 4000. “If you’re at the lower end of the spectrum as far as seniority goes, I could see why you’d be really concerned.”

Waller told 1310News, he understands the need to keep budgets balanced, but feels the provincial government is starving the facility.

“People can say what they want about the Ottawa Hospital, but it’s still the biggest hospital in eastern Ontario,” he said. “If you’re reducing services there, really, where are these services going to go.”

Unionized employees whose positions are eliminated will have the option to “bump” other staff, a process where longer-serving staff takes the jobs of co-workers with less seniority. But Dr. Kitts explained, he hopes most staff affected and their unions will be able to be accommodated with other positions within the hospital that are currently vacant.

Notices will go out to the staff affected and the process of finding them new positions or taking early retirement will happen over the next few weeks.

The cuts are expected to save the hospital $22-million, $9-million short of the $31-million needed to cure the deficit.