Hospital layoffs persist in tight labor market

Hospitals across the country are facing staffing shortages and seeing their labor expenses soar as they compete for talent. 

Hospital and health system executives are seriously concerned about staffing. The American Hospital Association said March 1 that the workforce challenges facing hospitals are a national emergency that demand immediate action by all levels of government. In recent months, some hospitals have scaled back services due to staffing shortages. 

Fiercer competition for clinicians and other healthcare professionals has led some hospitals to pay more to attract and retain talent. At the same time, other hospitals are cutting jobs and laying off workers for a variety of reasons. 

Southern Ohio Medical Center in Portsmouth said in February that it is eliminating 95 vacant positions and laying off 30 employees as part of a restructuring aimed at addressing challenges tied to the COVID-19 pandemic. Other hospitals, like St. Mary's Medical Center in West Palm Beach, Fla., and Community Hospital Long Beach (Calif.) are laying off workers as they scale back services. 

Many hospital layoffs in late 2021 and early 2022 were tied to hospital closures. West Reading, Pa.-based Tower Health laid off more than 820 employees when it closed two hospitals. Galesburg (Ill.) Cottage Hospital abruptly closed in January and its workers were informed via email that their employment had been terminated. The closure occurred after the hospital laid off at least 128 employees in 2021. 

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