Mass layoffs start to cool, but staff cuts continue

Staff reductions hit more than half of U.S. hospitals in 2009, and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts mass layoffs of at least 50 workers from a single hospital will reach the highest level ever when the final results are computed, according to American Medical News. With December results not yet available, the hospital industry already endured 145 mass layoffs for the year, resulting in 11,279 people claiming benefits.

The layoffs crested in July 2009 with 21 mass layoffs. The number of mass layoffs trended downward in each consecutive month, reaching a low of seven in November. While these results indicate some breathing room, layoffs in general continue. Within the past week, several hospitals nationwide reported worker layoffs.

Ingham Regional Medical Center in Lansing, Mich., which is owned by McLaren Health Care Corp., is making cuts, but won't tell how many workers or which departments are affected. The workforce reduction is necessary because the recession has reduced hospital volume throughout Michigan, says Ingham President/CEO Robert Wright.

Ohio Valley Medical Center and East Ohio Regional Hospital in Martins Ferry is cutting or combining 23 management jobs as part of a corporate personnel restructuring. No bedside care positions are included in the reductions, say hospital officials.

Nantucket Cottage Hospital in Massachusetts, a member of Partners Healthcare Inc., will lay off 16 union and nonunion workers, or 10 percent of its total staff, in the wake of a $4 million budget deficit. Hospital officials attribute the deficit to low patient volume and reduced Medicare reimbursements.

Palms of Pasadena Hospital in South Pasadena, Fla., is trimming a minimum of 25 workers, or 5 percent of its staff, in order to reduce labor costs. Layoffs are primarily limited to support staff, not clinicians, say hospital officials.

To learn more about mass hospital layoffs:
- here's the American Medical News article 
- read this Lansing State Journal article
- check out this article in The State Journal article
- read the Dedham Transcript article
- read the St. Petersburg Times article