California hospital plans more layoffs to avoid closure

Ridgecrest (Calif.) Regional Hospital is laying off 31 more employees just two months after it announced plans to layoff 29 others and suspend its labor and delivery unit, reported Feb. 15.

The most recent round of layoffs, beginning April 8, include seven licensed vocational nurses and four registered nurses, according to the report. 

Cutbacks will affect several key service lines, including surgery, respiratory therapy, physical therapy, environmental services, lab and various clinics.

"It is expected that Ridgecrest Regional Hospital will not be closed in its entirety," CEO James Suver said in a Feb. 8 notice sent to Kern County's board of supervisors.

The initial round of layoffs, which take effect Feb. 28, includes 23 registered nurses within the labor and delivery unit, according to NBC affiliate KGET. Inadequate obstetric providers and a nationwide shortage has contributed to recruitment challenges and forced the suspension of the service line, the hospital said. 

Ridgecrest Regional had subsidized labor and delivery services by about $4 million last year, but continuing to make that investment jeopardizes other services. Declining birth rates and reduced on-call expectations have made it more challenging to maintain a safe obstetric clinic in many rural areas.

"Rural healthcare is facing challenges that were not created locally, and they cannot be fixed at the local level," Mr. Suver said in the release. "We will continue to work with our elected officials and policy makers at the higher levels of government to find solutions that restore access to healthcare in our remote regions of the country."

Becker's has reached out to Ridgecrest Regional and will update this story as more information becomes available.

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