ABERDEEN, S.D. (AP) — Avera St. Luke's Hospital in Aberdeen has laid off a few employees and is offering early retirement to others in response to a drop in patient numbers.

The American News reports (http://bit.ly/1boEqwx ) that the number of employees affected will be at the most a dozen. Avera employs about 1,350 workers in Aberdeen.

President and CEO Todd Forkel says the hospital strives to keep its staff at a level that matches patient volume. He says the hospital tries to make reductions through attrition and early retirements, and that layoffs are a last resort.

The hospital says workers who lost their jobs are in support areas and not directly involved in patient care.

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