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Updated: December 26, 2022 Economic Forecast 2023

Healthcare 2023 economic forecast: A strained system

Photo | WBJ File Central Mass. healthcare providers are struggling with shortages of both doctors and nurses.

The healthcare sector was under strain before COVID hit in 2020, but since then the industry’s flaws have been exposed. The cracks continue to expand. Health care is Central Massachusetts’ fourth biggest industry by economic output and its largest employer, and right now it’s under immense pressure.

Hospitals will continue to be overwhelmed

The onslaught of patients will not end for hospitals. If it’s not COVID-19, it’s RSV or the flu or chronic illness. Beds are on short supply, and it’s only getting worse. Hospitals are stretched thinner now than anytime during the highs of the pandemic. That won’t stop as more people in the Baby Boomer generation age and need care. The healthcare system in America isn’t set up for this and can’t handle it unless something changes.

Expect more strikes

With the deluge of patients, hospital staff are wearing out. Expect those who work on the front lines to keep demanding more of their employers. A set of new contracts for nurses at UMass Memorial Health should ease some burden, but don’t expect that to solve everything. Other workers who help make hospitals go are beginning to get agitated. Look no further than the Teamsters Local 170, which barely avoided a planned Dec. 26 strike by reaching a tentative agreement with Saint Vincent Hospital in Worcester after nine months of negotiations.

Homeless population will need help

In June, the Central Massachusetts Housing Alliance reported the homeless population in Worcester County had risen nearly 50%, and the trend showed no signs of slowing down, as housing costs rise and service providers meant to help them, such as shelters, run low on resources.

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