Layoffs continue to plague hospitals

Employment at the nation's hospitals continues to suffer a case of the "haves" and "have nots." From December 2009 to January 2010, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that hospitals nationwide added 5,000 jobs--a figure nominally supported by news reports of hospital openings and expansions in some states. On the opposite end of the spectrum, struggling hospitals are making last-ditch efforts to balance the books by cutting staff. Here's a roundup of some February layoffs:

> Penobscot Bay Medical Center in Rockland, Maine, has eliminated 10 positions and cut back hours for seven staff members. Additional layoffs, work-hour reductions, wage freezes and benefit reductions could occur, warns Roy Hitchings, CEO of parent company Pen Bay Healthcare. More than 300 healthcare jobs have been lost in Maine over the past year, according to the Maine Hospital Association. In January, Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor cut more than 100 jobs.

> Jackson (Fla.) Health System has laid off 20 union employees and cut 27 vacant positions. This move came a week after Jackson Health trimmed 22 management staff. Since June 2009, the system has slashed some 600 positions.

> In Ohio, Coshocton Hospital has ended 44 full-time employee positions. In addition, work hours will be reduced across all departments, and 77 salaried employees will face a 5 percent pay cut.

> Moses Taylor Hospital in Scranton, Pa., let go 61 full-time employees. In addition, the hospital will reduce the hours of 50 per-diem workers. Over the past year, all three Scranton hospitals have laid off staff.

> Saint Mary's Regional Medical Center in Reno, Nev., has cut 15 supervisory and support positions.

> St. Vincent's Hospital Manhattan has laid off more than 300 workers, including medical residents, management staff, dietary staff, housekeepers and transport staff. In addition, the debt-ridden hospital is seeking temporary (120-day) staff pay cuts of 10 percent to 25 percent to avoid closing its doors for good.

> Forest Park Hospital in St. Louis has dismissed more than 300 of its 400 employees and cut most services other than a downsized emergency department and psychiatry unit.

For more information:
- read this press release from the Bureau of Labor Statistics
- check out this Bangor Daily News article
- here's the South Florida Business Journal article
- read the Coshocton Tribune article
- peruse this Times-Tribune article
- look at this Reno Gazette-Journal article
- read this New York Times article
- here's a St. Louis Post-Dispatch article