Hospitals face closings, layoffs nationwide

Despite recent Bureau of Labor Statistics data that overall healthcare jobs are showing modest gains, it's tough times for many hospitals across the country, who are still feeling the effects of an economic downturn. Faced with reduced reimbursements, growing costs and stiff competition, hospitals are closing, issuing layoffs, freezing benefits or a combination of these cost-savings measures.

For instance, Capella Healthcare this month is closing Hartselle Medical Center in Hartselle, Ala., as the hospital operator continues to exit from the market, The Tennessean reported. Capella also recently sold Parkway Medical Center in Decatur, Ala., to Huntsville Hospital Health System. Capella said Alabama has one of the most challenging reimbursement environments.

Other recent layoffs struck bankrupt Hawaii Medical Center, which was not as lucky to find a buyer. It closed patient care last week and laid off another 1,000 employees, reported KITV, an affiliate of ABC. Hawaii Medical Center abandoned plans to sell the hospital after its creditor, St. Francis Healthcare System, objected to the potential sale to interested buyer Prime Healthcare Services Foundation.

New York's Westchester Medical Center is planning another round of layoffs, this time costing 150 recreation therapists, mental health aides and social worker jobs, according to Journal News. The hospital announced the private takeover of Behavioral Health Center. Last month, the medical center had eliminated 250 jobs to save $30 million, citing state pension costs and reduced Medicaid and Medicare reimbursements.

Although reimbursements are part of the culprit, patients also are forgoing care. With declining patient volumes, St. Anthony's Medical Center in St. Louis laid off dozens of employees, according to the St. Louis Post Dispatch. The hospital saw inpatient admissions go down by approximately 4 percent, a growing trend across hospitals in the St. Louis area and nationwide, the article noted.

Moreover, UMass Memorial Health Care, the largest employer in Central Massachusetts, also may issue layoffs, including full-time positions this year as a result of disappointing financial performance, the Worcester Business Journal reported. Although there are no immediate plans for layoffs, executives are considering pension changes because UMass faces declining reimbursements, steeper competition and pressure from payers.

For more information:
- read the Tennessean article
- here's the Journal News article
- check out the St. Louis Post Dispatch article
- read the KITV article
- read the Worcester Business Journal article