By Gan Matthews, NEWS 9

NORMAN, Oklahoma -- Norman has been better insulated from the economic downturn than other cities in Oklahoma, but now it's starting to bite.

Norman's second largest employer is losing money, and is announcing layoffs.

Before the layoffs, Norman Regional Hospital employed over 2300 people.

Hospital officials say they will reduce their workforce by 70 positions, and reduce workweek hours in other jobs; a cost-savings move that will prevent further layoffs. The Mayor knew something like this was coming.

"The hospital board and the leadership of the hospital have advised us of some financial challenges that they currently face, which are going to cause some changes in their business model, and some efforts to economize in different places," Norman Mayor Cindi Rosenthal said.

Fewer patients and mounting debt have battered the hospital recently. The layoffs will have an impact beyond the immediate Norman area.

"Many of its employees and many of its patients come from outside the Norman municipal area, so it brings a lot of dollars into the economy," Anna-Mary Suggs with the Norman Chamber of Commerce said.

Norman also owns a medical center in Moore--and is building a HealthPlex campus along Interstate 35. It is scheduled to open next summer.

Norman Regional says it also has a program to save $5 million this fiscal year in non-salary areas.