New Jersey hospitals in trouble, trade group says

A survey of about half of the state's hospitals has revealed what we already could have guessed--that New Jersey facilities, like their peers elsewhere, are struggling to stay afloat, with some on the brink of crisis.

A new survey from the New Jersey Hospital Association, reaching 37 of the state's 74 hospitals, concluded that total hospital margins there fell from 3.7 percent in 2007 to a negative-4.5 percent in 2008. Three-quarters said that charity care and emergency department traffic were up. Meanwhile, better-paying elective procedures fell 2 percent to 20 percent in 60 percent of hospitals responding.

Given these grim stats, many hospitals have had to cut back on staff, and more should do so in coming months. Almost half (45 percent) had laid off from six to 140 people last year, and 21 percent expect layoffs of 10 to 120 employees this year, the group reports.

To learn more about the survey:
- read this Philadelphia Inquirer piece

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