The average operating margin of the 39 hospitals in Maine dropped to 0.8% in the first quarter, compared with 3.2% for the year-ago quarter, according to a survey by the Maine Hospital Association. Margins declined at 67% of the hospitals, and 42% of the facilities lost money. By comparison, 19% of Maine hospitals lost money in the 2001 quarter. A plethora of factors contributed to the decline, including workforce shortages that forced hospitals to hire contract workers at two or three times the cost of a permanent employee, the MHA said. The hospitals are responding to the poor climate by reducing their administrative workforce, cutting budgets and scaling back on nonessential services, it said. -- by Cinda Becker
Maine hospitals' aggregate operating margin falls
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