Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Survey: Hospitals, communities feel recession's impact

The recession continues to take its toll on hospitals, patients and communities, according to an August survey of community hospitals by the AHA. As unemployment rises, six in 10 hospitals report seeing more uninsured patients in the emergency department and five in 10 report an increased need for health clinics and other subsidized services. Nearly half of hospitals report declining margins, one-third report a negative total margin, and most are finding it hard to access capital. Nearly all hospitals are making changes to address these economic challenges, including staff or service cuts. Many hospitals also say physicians are seeking more financial support, such as on-call pay or hospital employment. A summary of the survey findings can be found in the 2010 edition of AHA Hospital Statistics, released today, which includes comprehensive data on hospital trends from the AHA's 2008 Annual Survey. According to the annual survey, U.S. community hospitals last year employed more than 5.3 million people and delivered more than 4 million babies. They also handled more than 123 million patients with emergency needs - an increase of 2 million visits over 2007.