It’s time for another unfortunate update to the Desperate Hospital series since last updated in November, and the related reading below has the links to the entire listings.

First and foremost, the story at the top of the list is probably one of the worst hit hospitals with the employees not getting paid in Pennsylvania, but hopefully the bankruptcy judge will see to ensure they are the first in line.  This is difficult as when paychecks are expected and folks are living paycheck to paycheck, their bills don’t get paid, snowball effect. 

Most of the updates here involve layoffs and cutbacks, although there are a few on the line as far as which direction issues will go.  Hospitals all over the country are scrutinizing budgets and putting of purchases this year in view of the suffering economy.  One group of 2 hospitals even had trouble keeping the electricity turned on due to payment problems and have been purchased by a larger health institution.  BD 

Aliquippa, Pennsylvania – Hospital closes and stiffs employees on last paychecks

ALIQUIPPA — Commonwealth Medical Center employees who said they were stiffed for their final paychecks after the Aliquippa hospital filed for bankruptcy last month rallied Friday to publicly protest a court ruling that permits pay for hospital executives.
About 250 workers and supporters turned out at the American Serbian Club in Hopewell Township, appealing to the public and officials for help in their dilemma.
The hospital closed Dec. 13, claiming it no longer had financing to continue operations. More than 200 employees were laid off, and the hospital still owes them a total of $482,900 for the final weeks they worked, according to bankruptcy documents.


Oregon Layoffs

The unemployment rate is the biggest driver of charity care, said Diana Gernhart, associate hospital director, finance, for OHSU Healthcare. Companies are also increasingly asking workers to shoulder a bigger load of health care costs. The result is that more low-income workers need help.

“We know demand will continue to rise and the payer mix will continue to shift,” Gernhart said.

Two weeks ago, OHSU announced sweeping cuts to cope with a $30 million gap caused, in part, by lower-than-expected growth in paying patients.


In Georgia Riverdale Hospital Gets a Bail Out

Clayton County’s only hospital will stay open and employees will keep their jobs — with little risk taxpayers will end up paying the bill.

The Clayton County Commission voted unanimously Tuesday to back a $40.2 million bond for Southern Regional Health System.

The vote means the 331-bed Riverdale hospital will not default on its loan, which is due to SunTrust Wednesday.

“We feel it is a great victory for the county and the community,” said Dr. Raju M. Vanapalli, an orthopedic surgeon at Southern Regional. “We can continue to provide the care that is expected of us.”

Even with the county’s help, Southern Regional is still struggling financially, Dodson said. The hospital has hired a management consulting company to trim fat and restructure the facility.


Wheeling, WV – layoffs coming

WEIRTON - Weirton Medical Center is reducing its work force, a move expected to save the hospital $2 million a year.

The exact number of layoffs is unknown, but WMC officials said the equivalent is 36 full-time employees.

Officials at Wheeling Hospital and Ohio Valley Medical Center in Wheeling and at East Ohio Regional Hospital in Martins Ferry said Wednesday that there are no plans to lay off employees at their facilities. However, they cited other measures being used to monitor their bottom lines.

Weirton Medical Center's cuts will occur during the next six months and include union, non-union and management positions in various departments. Dr. Joseph Endrich, president and chief executive officer, said a five-month operational review was conducted to identify areas where patient care could be provided more efficiently at a lower cost.


In Athens, GA – trouble finding a buyer for the hospital

Williams acknowledged that Doctors Hospital of Georgia, which is affiliated with Marietta-based EDT Group Inc., had a few banks reject loan requests.

However, the potential buyers also were worried about the hospital's financial losses last year, he said. The most recent figures given to the group before negotiations began showed a $300,000 loss just for October, he said.

"Officially the hospital withdrew the letter, but it was pretty much a reciprocal thing," Williams said.

Slocum said a down economy - which has swelled the ranks of the unemployed and uninsured - has caused BJC's rough patch.

"We're in the same boat as everyone else is," Slocum said. "The economy is really, really tight right now."


Hospitals in Nebraska Lay off employees

To weather the economic storm, hospitals are cutting staff. Good Samaritan has cut 32 jobs in Kearney, and St. Francis another 22 in Grand Island. At St. Francis Medical Center, that's less than two-percent of the hospital's 1,200 jobs.

CEO Dan McElligott said, "Even though it's a small percentage of our overall workforce it's still a very painful process, not only for people who are let go, but everyone who had to do layoffs, and also people who are still going to be here. We don't want to minimize the impact on those people."

Most cuts are behind the scenes, in the lab, marketing department, and other support services. Frontline nursing positions are unaffected. The hospital's CEO said they'll try to rehire staff or help them find work.


Central Kansas Medical Center cuts 10-15% 

The realities of the national economic downturn have hit home for Central Kansas Medical Center as the hospital administration announced Wednesday it would lay off approximately 50 employees, representing 10 to 15 percent of the workforce and touching all of its operations. Notifications went out to the affected employees Wednesday and Thursday.

The hospital is facing the same challenges as other health-care providers all across the country, CKMC President and Chief Executive Officer Sharon Lind said. These include people delaying elective surgeries and other procedures, increasing bad debt and skyrocketing charity care costs.

According to the Kansas Hospital Association's 2008 annual report, the total amount of unsponsored care (bad debt or charity care) increased from just over $400 million in 2003 to nearly $950 million in 2007. In the same time frame, total non-reimbursed care climbed from $3.9 billion to $4.9 billion.


Arizona hospitals face severe financial crunch

Arizona hospitals are facing a severe financial crunch as more patients delay medical care, don't pay their full bills or lose their health insurance.

The triple dose of bad economic medicine means some facilities are delaying expansions and cutting costs to ride out the recession. In an industry that embarked on a $3.3 billion building spree this decade, the Phoenix area's largest hospitals suddenly have turned frugal.

Health care has been one of the Phoenix area's largest sources of new jobs in recent years, viewed as a haven for workers even in recessionary times. But now hospitals are scaling back hiring, cutting temporary positions and paring budgets.

Byron said the non-profit hospital system has not tallied its end-of-year finances yet, but he expects large increases in charity care and a drop in paying patients seeking elective procedures.

"We are looking at challenges brought on by the economic crisis, and difficult decisions have to be made," Byron said


University of Chicago Medical Center  – Layoff of hundreds of employees

Crain’s) — University of Chicago Medical Center plans to lay off hundreds of employees as it works to cut up to $100 million in costs, or about 7% of its budget.

CEO James Madara confirmed late Friday that the 600-bed hospital plans a major restructuring amid growing financial pressures from the flagging economy.

He would not specify the number of job cuts, although a person familiar with the plans said the Hyde Park medical center hopes to reduce its workforce of 10,000 employees by roughly 10%. Dr. Madara said attrition would account for a large portion of any job cuts that are made.


imageIn Carson City, Nevada – Layoffs

CARSON CITY (AP) -- A Carson City hospital has laid off 30 workers in a budget-cutting move spurred by the faltering economy.

Carson Tahoe Regional Healthcare is providing severance for the employees.

Hospital spokeswoman Cheri Glockner says the organization has 1,232 employees and the 30 affected workers would be the first considered for rehiring when conditions improve. She says patient care would not be affected by the layoffs.


In Arkansas – Baptist Health Takes over hospital to keep it open and running

Baptist Health said Tuesday that it will assume operations of Stuttgart Regional Medical Center with a long-term lease agreement beginning on Thursday. 

The facility's name will become Baptist Health Medical Center-Stuttgart.

Arkansas Business first reported in September that Baptist Health would take over the hospital. Baptist Health has grown while other hospitals in Arkansas have struggled.


In Hammonton, New Jersey – Trying to figure out how to keep the hospital open

HAMMONTON — William B. Kessler Memorial Hospital officials have ended their effort to raise $5 million worth of loans from the community.

Despite that action, Kessler will stay open beyond Jan. 16, the deadline hospital officials established for raising the money they said was necessary to complete a restructuring.

Kessler, which opened in 1964, emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy in December 2007. Rossi said the hospital was expected to lose $4 million in 2008.


In Bangor, Maine – layoffs to avoid bankruptcy

The top administrator at Blue Hill Memorial Hospital has announced an undetermined number of staff layoffs in an effort to stave off bankruptcy.

In a letter released to employees and news outlets Wednesday, interim administrator Dr. Erik Steele said a number of belt-tightening measures, including staff reductions, must be undertaken if the hospital is to continue serving the people of the Blue Hill peninsula.


In Stafford, CT – filed bankruptcy and threatening to cancel Aetna contract

Johnson Memorial Hospital in Stafford, which filed for federal bankruptcy protection two months ago, is threatening to end its contract with Aetna by Jan. 31 if “certain financial demands” are not met, a spokeswoman for the health insurance company said Friday.

“We’re trying to improve our rates of reimbursement, and what we’re seeing is some negotiating tactics on both parts,” he said. “We want a higher reimbursement rate, because now we have a rate that is at or below our costs, so obviously we can’t afford to continue and we need to be paid equitably.”  “People can still come to Johnson, even if Aetna does cancel the contract,” he said. “They’d just be out of network, which just means it will cost Aetna more.”  56 full time jobs to be cut.

Footnote:  See what issues Prime Healthcare has with billing out of network charges in California. 


In Natchez, MS – Hospital filing bankruptcy to pay debtors

He said the bidder has requested the hospital not be made available for auction once the hospital declares bankruptcy.

The hospital is not bankrupt, however, the facility will use bankruptcy as a means to repay its debtors.

Phillips said the fact that the bidder doesn’t want the hospital to be re-opened to bidding speaks to their seriousness as bidders.


In St. Louis – Two Hospitals sold – both had problems keeping electricity on with payment problems

A Florida health care company has purchased Forest Park and St. Alexius hospitals of St. Louis, hospital officials announced Wednesday.
Success Healthcare LLC of Boca Raton, Fla., founded in August, took over operations at the struggling hospitals on Dec. 10. The company owns one other hospital with two campuses in Southern California.

St. Alexius had a net income of $842,000 and Forest Park posted a loss of $2.3 million in 2006, the latest figures available, according to the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services.
Both hospitals have had a series of troubles in recent years.
Forest Park and AmerenUE reached a deal in February to keep the hospital's electricity running after repeated problems with payments.

Related Reading:

Desperate Hospitals – Updated November 21, 2008
Homeless patient spent hospital money on crack
Pacific Health to buy Anaheim Memorial
Memorial Health Services Announces Sale of Anaheim Memorial Medical Center
Desperate Hospitals: Chicago Hospital Hangs For Sale Sign
Desperate Hospitals - Hawaii- What is happening to our Hospital System?
Desperate Hospitals - August 29 (Continued)
More Desperate Hospitals - Miami, FL and Cape Cod, MA
A hopeful prognosis - Desperate "California" Hospitals
Desperate Hospitals - Century City Doctors Hospital (Los Angeles) begins shutting down, others file Chapter 11 to reorganize
New New Jersey law to pinpoint financially troubled hospitals - "Desperate Hospitals"
Desperate Hospitals? (As Featured today in the WSJ)
The battle of the medical bills where nobody but the insurers win
Hospitals protest new California rules on patient balance billing
Cape Cod hospital gets $10M gift
Bankruptcy Bug Hits Hospitals – Desperate Hospitals
Desperate Hospitals – September 2008
Desperate Hospitals: Hospitals in Hands of Voters - Arkansas


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