Hiring and firing: Hospitals face economic changes

While some hospital and health systems are hiring, many organizations across the country are announcing layoffs due to cut Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements.

For instance, the nonprofit MultiCare Health System in Tacoma, Wash., on Tuesday announced it will eliminate 350 employees due to financial problems resulting from declining reimbursements, according to MultiCare CEO Diane Cecchettini, reports The News Tribune. State budgets will lead to reductions of $37.6 million in 2011 to 2013, with $10 million occurring this year, according to a MultiCare statement.

Similarly, in New York, Richmond University Medical Center in Staten Island announced on Tuesday that the 510-bed facility will lay off 60 workers, including 20 nurses, effective Aug. 1. Adding on to its first round of layoffs in 2008 where it laid off 55 workers, this second round is a result of significant Medicaid and Medicare funding cuts and a budget shortfall estimated at $6 million, reports the Staten Island Advance.

According to a Bureau of Labor Statistics  (BLS) report released last week, hospital employment was down in the month of June at 4,738,000 jobs, down from 4,742,000 in May.

However, the overall healthcare industry in general is experiencing employment growth, even though not evident in hospitals. During the past 12 months, the healthcare industry has added an average 24,000 jobs per month, according to the BLS report.

One health system, WellStar Health System in Atlanta, announced it is creating 300 jobs for a new facility that will replace an aging Palding County hospital, according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Aimed at accommodating the growing population that increased by 75 percent in the past decade, the new facility will include a specialty cancer center and a retail pharmacy.

"Long-term, we see the medical sector as a huge growth industry for us," said Jamie Gilbert, executive director of Paulding County Economic Development Inc., in the article.

To learn more:
- read the The News Tribune article
- read the MultiCare statement
- here's the Staten Island Advance article
- check out the BLS data
- read the The Atlanta Journal-Constitution article

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