Advocate Health Care imposes hiring freeze
Advocate Health Care, the largest hospital network in Illinois, is putting hiring on hold until at least July 1.
The move comes a month after Advocate's proposed merger with North Shore University Health System collapsed under the weight of Federal Trade Commission challenges, though a spokeswoman says it's not related to costs associated with that legal battle.
Instead, Advocate pointed to broader financial challenges facing the hospital industry as a whole—and the state of Illinois' problems in particular.
Health care providers nationwide are facing the "harsh reality of soaring costs, bad debt and declining revenue," Advocate Chief Operating Officer Bill Santulli said in a statement.
"Further, operating in a state with one of lowest reimbursement rates and significant payment delays due to the lack of a state budget exacerbates the situation," Santulli continued. "These challenges have motivated us to take proactive steps."
The hiring freeze is limited to about 300 of 1,700 vacant positions in management and non-clinical roles. Nurses and doctors will still be hired as needed. In fact, Advocate is promoting on Twitter a $5,000 sign-on bonus for night shift nurses. In January, the Downers Grove-based system said it would hire up to 2,500 registered nurses each year for the next four years.
It's not clear how much the failed merger effort ultimately cost Advocate. The two health systems were tied up in federal court for more than a year with the FTC, which in March won to stop the merger.
Advocate plans to re-evaluate the hiring freeze come July 1. The 12-hospital network had $5.59 billion in 2016 revenue and about 36,000 employees as of Dec. 31, according to a financial statement. The system did not lose revenue year over year, but its operating income, or profit, shrunk 20 percent, from $330.5 million in 2015 to $263.6 million in 2016, the financial statement shows.
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