A sign on an Ochsner Rush Health building in Meridian, Miss, is seen in this photo taken on Monday, Aug. 1, 2022 after it was announced that Rush Health Systems officially merged with Ochsner Health. Ochsner operates 40 hospitals and more than 300 health and urgent care centers across Louisiana, Mississippi and the Gulf South. (Bill Graham/The Meridian Star via AP)

Ochsner Health, which has dozens of operations in Mississippi, has announced it is cutting nearly 800 positions here and in Louisiana.

But a spokesman for the health care giant would not say how many of the eliminated positions are in Mississippi. 

Many of Ochsner’s Mississippi locations are in the southern part of the state and the Gulf Coast. 

The announcement follows the news earlier this month that Gulfport Memorial Hospital is laying off 90 employees

The cuts are expected to save between $125 million and $150 million a year, according to NOLA.com. It is the largest such reduction in the hospital system’s history – the 770 employees represent about 2% of Ochsner’s workforce.

The health system’s CEO Pete November said in a message to employees that despite reducing spending, renegotiating contracts with supply and service companies, decreasing reliance on agency workers and launching initiatives to increase clinic visits, more needed to be done to address financial challenges.

The positions impacted by the layoffs are “primarily non-direct patient care roles” and management. No physicians are impacted, November said, and any impacted employees with active clinical credentials will be offered other direct patient care roles in the system.

“We are not alone in this: healthcare providers across the country have experienced increased labor costs, a shortage of patient care clinicians, high inflation and the end of pandemic relief funding from the federal government,” he wrote.

Tim Moore, president and CEO Mississippi Hospital Association, echoed November when talking about the state of Mississippi hospitals.

“On a national scale 2022 was the worst financial year in history for hospitals. More hospitals report negative margins than ever before, and Mississippi is no exception,” said Moore. “This unfortunately will mean in many cases dramatic changes to staffing and services offered in communities.”

Moore continued to say that Mississippi needs Medicaid expansion.

“We have access to resources that will help businesses, Mississippians, our hospitals and other providers as well. We as a state should simply extend access to care to the low wage earners that cannot afford to pay traditional insurance premiums,” he said. “This is one huge piece of the healthcare stabilization puzzle.”

Hospitals around the country suffered losses in 2022, and first-quarter cuts among health care companies were up 65% in 2023 compared to 2022, according to Fierce Healthcare.

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Kate Royals is a Jackson native and returned to Mississippi Today as the lead education reporter after serving in the same capacity from 2016 to 2018. Prior to that, she was a reporter for the Clarion-Ledger covering education and state government. She won awards for her investigative work, including stories about the state’s campaign finance laws and prison system. She was a news producer at MassLive in Springfield, Mass., after graduating from Louisiana State University’s Manship School of Mass Communications with a master’s degree in communications.