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With too many beds, six of the 10 largest post declines
The Bay Area's nearly 60 hospitals, squeezed by an unrelenting trend in their industry, saw their occupancy rates fall last year to an average of 49 percent, far below what was considered healthy just a few years ago.
The drop - from a rate of just better than 50 percent in 1993 - comes as hospitals expand outpatient, home-health and other services, and seek out new survival strategies in a market increasingly governed by managed care and its prescribed cost cuts.
As hospitals implement these strategies, occupancy rates are deemed less important measures of success. But the rates still are key indicators of a hospital's overall health.
More than anything, the drop in occupancy rates reflects the changing pattern of care - patients spending less time in the hospital. …