Budget woes lead to massive nurse layoffs at two hospitals

Two public hospitals in Cook County, Ill., are cutting 138 nursing jobs to save money. The mass layoffs, which the nurses union deemed the "Valentine's Day massacre," will hit Provident and Oak Forest Hospitals of the Cook County Health and Hospitals System.

Some of the layoffs will go into effect by the end of the month, while others will occur later this year, reports the Associated Press. Following the layoffs, Provident will employ 63 nurses and Oak Forest will have 23.

The job cuts are part of the county's plan to reduce services--and costs--at the two hospitals. The county expects to save between $20 million and $25 million, notes WGN News.

Nurses were notified about the layoffs two weeks ago and county administrators already are working with the nurses union to place nurses somewhere else, health system spokesman Lucio Guerrero told the AP. Notified nurses can apply for vacant positions in the health system, or bump those with less seniority at the hospital where they work.

In another cost cutting move, Provident Hospital no longer will accept ambulances to its emergency room. The move originally was scheduled for January, but was delayed so other hospitals could prepare for the influx of patients.

At the county's Finance Committee hearing yesterday, Oak Forest Hospital nurse Tya Robinson spoke out against cuts to the Cook County budget, which calls for hundreds of job cuts, notes the Chicago Tribune. Many Cook County workers and union leaders asked for furlough days instead of layoffs as a way to save millions of dollars.

For more:
- check out the WGN News piece
- read the Associated Press article
- read the Chicago Tribune article