Though worries about healthcare worker shortages are growing, 53 hospitals in the U.S. have announced staffing reductions in the last nine months.
- Financial and operational challenges are driving at least 53 hospitals and health systems in the U.S. to reduce their workforce.
- These staffing reductions seem surprising as many hospitals have struggled to secure adequate staffing levels.
- Physician and healthcare worker shortages have started to worry experts watching the industries.
- Many hospitals have eliminated managerial or administrative roles, but some have reduced their workforce, including nurses, doctors, technicians, and maintenance staff.
Why it’s news
Hospitals have struggled to fill a labor shortage since before the pandemic, but conditions worsened as COVID pressures led to staff burnout. The nurses who have remained are looking for higher pay, and many hospitals are complying. However, the increase in staff reductions—especially on the administrative level—indicates that many health systems are looking for ways to recoup money now spent on worker salaries.
Many hospitals are now using a gig app to hire nursing staff. This setup is beneficial for nurses who can choose the shifts that fit their schedule best—or the shifts at hospitals with the highest pay.
Hospitals will often offer different pay rates depending on how desirable the shift is. In at least one Los Angeles hospital, workers were offered $106 per hour for a 12-hour shift in the intensive-care unit on Easter, The Wall Street Journal reports.
Demand for nursing will likely never go away, so hospitals that need to reduce costs are looking to administrative staff. Washington Hospital Confluence Health eliminated its chief operating officer as it tried to restructure its organization while facing financial pressures, Becker’s reports.
Confluence is not the only hospital to lay off C-suite staff. North Carolina-based Novant Health laid off around 50 workers in March, including the system’s chief consumer officer, chief transformation and digital officer, and vice president of innovation and enablement.
In dozens of other hospitals, managerial and administrative staff are part of the job cuts. San Diego health system Scripps Health cut 70 administrative roles in early May. Regional Health in New York is eliminating 60 positions, primarily nonclinical and management roles. Memorial Health System is laying off less than 2% of its workforce, affecting 90 people in nonclinical or leadership positions. South Dakota’s Monument Health eliminated around 2% of its workforce—primarily corporate service positions—and chose to eliminate corporate roles that had not yet been filled, Becker’s reports.
While the layoffs primarily affect managerial and non-patient-facing roles, some hospitals are laying off caregivers and nursing staff. Ascension St. Vincent’s will close its maternity-care wing in the Jacksonville, Florida, hospital. Around 62 registered nurses will be moved to other areas of the hospital, but about 68 jobs will be affected. PeaceHealth has chosen to eliminate around 251 caregiver positions in its multiple locations.
Other job cuts are related to hospital service closures. Nuvance Health in Connecticut laid off around 102 workers when its 100-bed rehabilitation center closed in April. Cleveland-based St. Vincent Charity Medical Center closed its inpatient and emergency room in November. In doing so, it laid off 978 workers.