OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Rising costs nationwide are part of the reason Oklahoma hospitals are slashing staff.
Over the last week, two major hospital systems have cut 300 positions.
OU Health released a statement that said reorganizing of their company created duplicate jobs, which caused them to eliminate 100 positions.
Integris Health released a statement Monday talking about their 200 positions that were eliminated.
“Financial challenges are multifold, but some include a dramatic rise in expenses due to labor shortages and supply-chain disruptions, and significantly lower patient volumes compared to pre-pandemic days,” said a company spokeswoman.
Integris laid off 140 positions and cut 60 vacant jobs, according to the spokeswoman.
Of those 140 positions, the majority of the cuts were “from corporate and administrative positions, not caregivers providing direct patient care.”
“Oklahoma is not an island,” said Patti Davis, President of Oklahoma Hospital Association. “We are not any different than the rest of the states.”
Davis said that trends nationwide show the health care industry is seeing a reduction in certain staff members.
The reason why comes from record-high inflation and costs associated with continued care for COVID patients.
“The pharmaceutical drugs that were developed for COVID in combination with a lot of resource intensive therapies taking care of COVID patients in the hospital is very, very expensive,” Davis.
For two years hospitals were receiving money from the federal government to help pay for COVID costs.
The president of OHA said companies did not see the same assistance in 2022, but they continued to have significant care for patients suffering from COVID.
Davis said contacts with insurance companies are another big reason why hospitals are not financially strong right now.
“The thing that’s different for hospitals that is different from regular business is hospitals have a fixed rate contracts with health plans, so we don’t have the ability to raise our prices to get out of this,” said the association’s president.
“Let’s say a hospital signs a contract in 2019, and that’s before COVID hit. Well, the world is very different in terms of expenses in hospitals.”
OU Health and Integris make up two out of the four major health care systems in central Oklahoma.
A Mercy spokeswoman said the company “is not planning layoffs.”
She added that “Mercy has been working diligently” to continue their access despite inflation, labor shortages, and workforce challenges.
KFOR reached out to SSM Health and are still waiting for a response.