EAST MEADOW - Nearly 200 Nassau University Medical Center (NUMC) workers were handed pink slips today.

NUMC has confirmed that about 175 workers were laid off, among them doctors, nurses, clerks and counselors.

"A lot of them were in shock, they're here 29, 25 years," says Linda Dimonda, the head of the NUMC nurses' union.

Hospital officials say they had no choice but to slash the staff. NUMC is facing a $25 million increase in pension costs and a $10 million increase in operating costs. In addition, Medicaid reimbursements are being cut by $10 million, leaving the hospital with a projected $50 million budget gap.

Officials say the cuts won't affect patient care, but Dimonda says they're already working with a skeleton crew.

Hospital officials say if the union doesn't make some concessions, more layoffs could be coming. However, Dimonda says there are more than a dozen hospital vice presidents all making six-figure salaries who should also make sacrifices.