Hospital mass layoffs spread to California, increase in Massachusetts

A hospital mass layoff (involving 50 or more employees) has been announced in California, marking at least the sixth state to earn this dubious distinction since July 1. Additional mass layoffs have been announced in Massachusetts as well, and more could be pending in that state if federal and state funding cuts further weaken hospitals like the Massachusetts Health Care Association predicts. Here's a roundup of the latest news:

In California, El Camino Hospital will lay off roughly 140 employees "across the board" from both its Mountain View and Los Gatos locations before Nov. 1, reports the San Jose Mercury News. Up to 195 of the hospital's 3,000 employees have already received layoff warning notices. "Sending 195 notices is significant, because it's been a long time, 15 years, since we've done this," CEO Ken Graham told the Silicon Valley/San Jose Business Journal.

El Camino reported a nearly $37 million profit in fiscal year (FY) 2010. However, most of the profits related to "one-time adjustments, one-time recoveries," hospital spokesman Chris Ernst told the News. The job cuts are needed to align operational costs with patient revenues, which declined in FY 2010.

In Massachusetts, Beverly-based Northeast Hospital Corp. plans to cut 75 to 100 jobs, as well as streamline senior management, over the next four to eight months, reports the Boston Globe. The hospital system, which has about 2,400 employees, expects the changes to result in savings of $15 million. COO Pauline Pike told the Globe the layoffs are needed to increase efficiency. "As difficult as this is, we are trying to do this in a thoughtful way and be proactive and not wait till we're in crisis,'' Pike said.

Earlier this month, Berkshire Health Systems in Pittsfield revealed plans to pare down its workforce by 3.7 percent (124 full- and part-time employees, or 94 full-time equivalent positions). And more layoffs could be in the works. The Massachusetts Hospital Association believes upcoming Medicare payment cuts, in combination with planned cuts by the state's MassHealth program, will destabilize the state's healthcare system, reports the Boston Herald.

To learn more:
- read this San Jose Mercury News article
- read this Silicon Valley/San Jose Business Journal article
- read this Boston Herald article
- read this Boston Globe article
- read this Gloucester Times article