Hospital mass layoffs hit Connecticut, Kentucky, Kansas, New York

While some experts predict that hospital hiring trends will actually accelerate over the next year, that acceleration is still painfully far away for many hospitals. Mass layoffs of 50 or more employees continue to occur nationwide, and some state hospital associations expect to see even more workers let go as hospitals grapple with ongoing patient volume declines and potential funding cuts. Here's a roundup of recent mass layoffs:

Connecticut. St. Francis Hospital and Medical Center in Hartford will cut roughly 200 full-time equivalent positions from its 3,500 employees in late August, reports the Hartford Courant. Managers at the 572-bed hospital haven't decided which workers to let go, but CEO Christopher Dadlez said the job cuts are necessary to address a "modest decline" in patient volume in combination with reduced Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements. The Connecticut Hospital Association believes the St. Francis layoffs could be the tip of a growing iceberg. "I think there's going to be further downsizing, wage freezes and cutting benefits," Stephen Frayne, the association's senior vice president of health policy told the Courant. "Hospitals are going after ways to reduce their expenses."

Kentucky. King's Daughters Medical Center in Ashland announced plans to institute significant hospital-wide staff cuts despite a two-year restructuring effort, reports the Lexington Herald-Leader. While the hospital wouldn't specify how many employees will be let go, representatives of the Service Employees International Union District 1199 told the newspaper that King's Daughters was releasing 82 employees and asking at least another 50 to transition to part-time employment. (WSAZ reports that 150 employees were asked to go part-time or else and that pay cuts were part of the package.) In addition, some nonunion employees, including nurses, reportedly are being hit by the staff reductions. Ashland's mayor told WSAZ that he expects the job cuts to total several hundred. King's Daughters employs about 4,400 workers.

Kansas. In mid-July, St. Francis Health Center in Topeka laid off 105 employees or 5.4 percent of its 1,934 employees, reports the Topeka Capital-Journal. The layoffs impacted both clinical and nonclinical departments, and management positions accounted for roughly one-third of the staff cuts. Not-for-profit St. Francis expects some of the administrative functions to be picked up by parent Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth Health System's corporate office in Lenexa. Like many hospitals before it, St. Francis cited significant declines in patient admissions and increases in uncompensated care as factors in the layoffs.

New York. In early July, Westchester Medical Center in Valhalla, N.Y., announced plans to lay off 130 staff members, reports the Journal News. About half of the affected employees work in a medical unit at the county jail. The hospital was running the program for the county at an annual loss of $2.5 million, Westchester CEO Michael Israel told the newspaper. The county awarded the contract to another vendor rather than pay Westchester more money.

To learn more:
- read these Hartford Courant articles: article 1 and article 2
- read this Lexington Herald-Leader article
- take a look at these WSAZ reports
- read this Topeka Capital-Journal article
- read this Journal News article