An ever increasing number of cities, states, and local communities are facing, or have faced the inevitable: the closing of major hospitals.
Besides the obvious effects of hospital closings, a major concern is a huge number of hospital employees losing their jobs. A single hospital typically employ thousands of workers, and nationally employ about five million workers, including doctors, nurses, technicians, specialists, orderlies, surgeons, social service workers, cleaning and sanitation workers, and so on.
Across the country, hospitals are closing or consolidating at staggering rates. In New Jersey, four hospitals have closed in the last eighteen months, four other hospitals have plans to close, five have filed for bankruptcy protection, and half of the others in the state are losing money. Four have closed in the last 18 months, four others are planning to close, five filed for bankruptcy protection and about half of the others are losing money. Furthermore, New Jersey’s Governor Jon Corzine has proposed a fourteen percent cut in state hospital aid, which could completely cut state funding to twenty-six hospitals.
And in California, the number of hospital closings across the state are shocking. Amongst the hardest hit hospitals are rural areas, which are facing a huge number of closings and consolidations.
Also, in Florida, a new plan has been introduced to ration health care in hospitals during a severe flu outbreak. According to the plan,calls for doctors to remove patients with poor prognoses from ventilators in order to treat those who have a better chance of surviving. Furthermore, Florida also recommends banning patients with incurable cancer, final-stage multiple sclerosis and other untreatable conditions from being admitted to hospitals if the state is overwhelmed by flu cases.
The decision would be made by the hospital. The state also started cutting Medicaid reimbursements two years ago and will continue its huge cuts over the next few year.
According to a survey of more than seven-hundred hospitals, found two-thirds have seen elective procedures and overall admissions fall since July, and half have seen moderate or significant jumps in nonpaying patients. And, according to the American Hospital Association, “Six out of ten hospitals nationally are seeing a greater proportion of patients without insurance coming through their emergency departments and nearly half have reduced staff according to a March 2009 survey of hospitals. The majority of hospitals reported that fewer patients are seeking inpatient and elective services, while the proportion covered by Medicaid and other public programs for those in need is increasing. The financial health of hospitals is declining with over 40 percent expecting losses in the first quarter of 2009.”