N.J. Hospitals Report Increase In Patient Visits, But Not Enough To Prevent Cut-Backs

HospitalMore people scheduled elective surgeries or sought other forms of hospital care last year, but not enough to prevent hospital job cuts and wage freezes, according to a survey by the New Jersey Hospital Association released today. The survey, based on the responses last month from 43 percent of the association’s membership indicates hospitals got busier, but working conditions have yet to improve. The vast majority of hospitals that participated in the survey, 82 percent, said it served more people last year that lacked health insurance. “When the stock market crashed in October 2008, hospitals noticed an immediate impact of individuals canceling procedures or delaying health care services,’’ said Sean Hopkins, the association’s senior vice-president for health economics. “But one year later, it’s clear that patients can’t ignore their health care need on a long-term basis, and they depend on their local hospitals.’’

One in four hospitals cut spending by trimming services, usually for children inpatient treatment and people with mental illness. Only 17 percent of hospital executives resorted to curtailing patient services in 2008, according to the survey. The cuts were made, in part every because every hospital struggled to fund-raise in 2009, the survey said.

The survey also found:

  • 43 percent of hospitals laid-off workers last year, compared to 45 percent who passed-out pink slips in 2008;
  • The same percentage of hospitals (48 percent) said the eliminate vacant jobs to save money;
  • About one in four hospitals announced a hiring freeze compared to 13 percent who did so in 2008.

 

“Just like other businesses, hospitals continue to feel the economic pressures of the recession, the association’s President and CEO Betsy Ryan said. “But unlike other businesses, hospitals can’t simply adjust by reducing their output or cutting back on hours.’’ Star Ledger.

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