Hospitals give pink slips, troubled by uncompensated care

Although massive hospital layoffs dropped during the first quarter, recent hospital layoffs paint a gloomy picture for the healthcare industry, particularly for smaller hospitals with Medicaid patients.

Less than a week after Southern New Hampshire Medical Center announced 100 layoffs, St. Joseph Hospital in New Hampshire today announced it is closing its subsidiary companies, Rockingham Regional Ambulance, Inc., and Granite State Mediquip, Inc., affecting more than 10 percent of the hospital workforce, according to a Nashua Telegraph article.

"It's going to freeze our growth, and we'll lose those services that don't make money but are valuable," said Vice President of Medical Affairs Dr. William Stephan in the article.

The announcement follows other layoffs at troubled New Hampshire hospitals, plagued by reduced Medicaid reimbursements.

Similarly, in Oregon, St. Charles Health System last week laid off three workers and also imposed a hiring freeze as it struggles to deal with a $9 million budget shortfall, according to a KTVZ article.

"We are seeing more and more patients on Medicaid programs and more and more patients who can't afford to pay for their care," said St. Charles-Bend CEO Jay Henry in the article. "I hope we get to a place where our economy stabilizes, but until that point, we need to adjust the organization to meet the needs of the changing landscape."

In South Carolina, Bamberg County Hospital is laying off nearly half of its workforce and faces closing. Sixty-five percent of its patients are on Medicare or Medicaid, according to a WIS TV report, and leaves the hospital in hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt. To stay afloat, the hospital is anticipating a $500,000 loan from the county and is hoping for investors to keep the hospital running.

For more information:
- read the Nashua Telegraph article
- watch the WIS TV report
- read the KTVZ article