Financial fallout from COVID-19: 9 latest hospital layoffs and closures

The financial challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic have forced hundreds of hospitals across the nation to furlough, lay off or reduce pay for workers, and others have had to scale back services or close. 

U.S. hospitals are estimated to lose more than $323 billion this year, according to a report from the American Hospital Association. The total includes $120.5 billion in financial losses the AHA predicts hospitals will see from July to December. 

Lower patient volumes, canceled elective procedures and higher expenses tied to the pandemic have created a cash crunch for hospitals. Though Congress has allocated $175 billion in relief aid for hospitals and other healthcare providers, it isn't enough to cover the lost revenue and higher expenses some are experiencing due to the pandemic.  

Hospitals are taking a number of steps to offset financial damage. Executives, clinicians and other staff are taking pay cuts, capital projects are being put on hold, and some employees are losing their jobs. More than 260 hospitals and health systems have furloughed workers in recent months and dozens others have implemented layoffs. 

Below are nine hospitals and health systems that have announced layoffs or plans to close in the past three weeks. 

1. Bluefield (W.Va.) Regional Medical Center will end services by July 30. Officials said the decision to shut down the hospital was based on several factors, including declining patient volume and reimbursement rates and significant financial damage tied to the COVID-19 pandemic. Leaders from Princeton (W.Va.) Community Hospital, which acquired Bluefield Regional last year, said they hope to offer some services at the hospital campus. 

2. Citing financial challenges from the pandemic, Seattle-based UW Medicine announced July 21 that it would lay off 100 workers. In addition to the layoffs, UW Medicine will reorganize and consolidate in several departments. It has already furloughed 4,000 unionized employees and 1,500 non-union staff members. 

3. Wheeling (W.Va.) Hospital plans to reduce its workforce to help offset financial damage tied to the COVID-19 pandemic and a pending settlement with the Department of Justice.The hospital said it will start by offering voluntary buyouts to staff, but if it fails to achieve appropriate staff reductions, an involuntary reduction plan will be implemented. 

4. Kansas City, Mo.-based Saint Luke's Health System shut down the inpatient unit at its hospital in Leavenworth, Kan., on July 17 and will completely close the hospital on Oct. 1. The health system cited the financial strain from the COVID-19 pandemic as the reason for closing Saint Luke's Cushing Hospital. 

5. Huntington, W.Va.-based Mountain Health Network laid off 64 employees to help offset losses linked to the COVID-19 pandemic. The affected positions include employees in leadership roles as well as some workers who were furloughed in April.

6. Potsdam, N.Y.-based St. Lawrence Health Systems announced in early July that it would lay off 26 workers who were placed on furlough to help offset revenue losses attributed to the pandemic. 

7. Boise, Idaho-based Saint Alphonsus Health System said it will lay off some employees and make other cuts to help offset financial damage tied to the pandemic. The health system's cost reduction plan includes eliminating vacant positions, extending some furloughs and eliminating a limited number of positions. 

8. Daytona Beach, Fla.-based Halifax Health said in early July that it laid off 95 employees to help offset losses attributed to the pandemic. The laid-off employees were among nearly 400 Halifax Health staffers furloughed in April. 

9. Bloomington, Minn.-based HealthPartners announced in early July that it is eliminating 200 jobs at two of the seven clinics it's in the process of closing. The health system shut down the clinics due to the COVID-19 pandemic and will not reopen the sites. 

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