Saint Alphonsus Health System on Wednesday evening told its workforce some employees will face temporary furloughs due to the financial concerns of the coronavirus outbreak.
“But these are not ‘normal times’ and the sustained loss of volume and increased costs associated with COVID-19 preparedness is outpacing our revenue,” according to a letter from Odette Bolano, the company’s CEO and president, emailed to Saint Alphonsus employees, obtained by the Idaho Press. “Our revenue in the inpatient and outpatient settings have declined anywhere between 50-80%. While the operational changes we’ve made have been necessary and vital for the safety of our patients, colleagues and communities, they have also resulted in significant unexpected costs which continue for the duration of the pandemic.”
Senior leaders, vice presidents and anyone ranked higher than that will take pay cuts, according to the letter. Those pay cuts will be effective next week. Some employees’ schedules will be reduced to part-time.
“‘Furloughs,’ defined as an involuntary period of unpaid time away from work, will be implemented for some colleagues whose work has significantly declined as a result of COVID-19,” according to the letter.
The employees who are furloughed will be eligible for benefit continuation, according to the letter. The company has 5,000 colleagues and 2,000 medical staff members, according to its LinkedIn page.
The letter emphasizes the furloughs will be a temporary measure. It also adds, “All non-essential work will be suspended to focus on COVID-19 priorities.”
The letter acknowledges Saint Alphonsus Health System is not the only health care company to face financial hardship.
“Across the nation, many health care systems are taking similar action,” according to the letter.
Saint Alphonsus Health System provided a written statement from Bolano, the company’s president and CEO, when asked about the email by the Idaho Press.
“Saint Alphonsus’ priority is the care and safety of our colleagues and the people we serve, and our colleagues have never worked harder than they are working today,” the statement reads. “Health systems worldwide are under tremendous pressure to prepare for the upcoming COVID-19 surge. We are actively recruiting to increase our clinical staff, redeploying colleagues to address critical needs, decreasing senior leader compensation and planning for reduction of colleagues’ hours and furloughs to address the challenges we face.”
All the services patients receive at Saint Alphonsus hospitals or at any of the company’s 73 specialty, urgent care and family medicine clinics are still available, according to the statement, and the company continues to provide “the full spectrum of urgent and emergent procedures and surgeries.”
“We have also expanded our telemedicine service, MyeVisit, to allow patients to see a provider while staying at home,” according to the statement. “We are only temporarily postponing elective surgeries, procedures, diagnostic tests and other elective care until this crisis is over and are working with patients to reschedule.”
Bolano’s statement lists the ways the company has prepared for the new coronavirus and worked to reduce its spread, in addition to temporarily suspending elective services. The hospital has restricted visitation at the hospitals and building access, developed telehealth options, and set up three outpatient respiratory sites.