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Economic Downturn Taking Toll on Patients and Communities Hospitals Serve: New Survey Finds
Date:4/26/2009

Hospitals are cutting services and staff, while more patients are in need of assistance

WASHINGTON, April 27 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Six out of ten hospitals nationally are seeing a greater proportion of patients without insurance coming through their emergency departments, according to a new survey from the American Hospital Association (AHA). At the same time, nearly half of hospitals reported they have cut staff. Recent employment information from the Bureau of Labor Statistics confirms that hospital employment is no longer growing and that the number of mass layoffs for hospitals reported in February was more than double what it was a year ago.

The majority of hospitals reported that fewer patients are seeking inpatient and elective services; however, many hospitals are seeing more patients covered by Medicaid and other public programs for those in need. Need for hospital-subsidized services such as clinics, screenings and outreach is increasing even as charitable contributions are down for many hospitals.

"Today's findings signal what many of us in health care are concerned about: people put off care when they lose their job, which can complicate health care issues for many down the road," said AHA President and CEO Rich Umbdenstock. "At the same time, the fact that hospitals are cutting staff challenges the notion that hospitals are recession-proof."

The survey also found that the economy is affecting hospitals with nine in 10 hospitals making cutbacks to help weather the economic storm. At the same time, more than one in five hospitals reported reducing services their community depends on, such as behavioral health programs, post acute care, clinics and patient education.

"Community need for care remains high and in these tough times, communities turn to their local hospital," Umbdenstock said. "Hospitals are walking a tightrope, trying to balance the gr
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SOURCE American Hospital Association
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