Hospital employment takes major hit

The past year-and-a-half has been brutal for hospitals, some of which have been pushed to the limit by the recession. Many responded by making deep staffing cuts, a process that has just started to tail off in the third quarter of 2009.

Staff cutting began in earnest in mid-2008, one of the worst years on record for mass layoffs in the hospital industry. By November 30 of last year, 107 hospitals had laid of 50 or more employees, including both administrative staffers and employed doctors, according to the U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics. That included the spectacular layoff of 3,800 employees from the University of Texas Medical Branch, though those were driven directly by the impact of Hurricane Ike a few months earlier.

By the end of the second quarter of this year, it seemed as though layoffs had begun to tail off, though a few hospitals continued to make significant cuts. And as of this point, as hospitals close the books on 2009, some have made turnarounds and posted unexpected profits for the year.  With any luck, the worst of the staff-slashing is over.

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