St. Elizabeth announces voluntary furloughs

COVID-19 has severely affected the hospital’s finances, its chief operating officer wrote in a letter.

Professional and homemade signs thanking St. Elizabeth staff are scattered around the hospital. Photo by Ray Miller-Still

Professional and homemade signs thanking St. Elizabeth staff are scattered around the hospital. Photo by Ray Miller-Still

As hospitals scrambled to deal with COVID-19, many of their other operations have fallen by the wayside, and financial trouble looms on the horizon.

That’s why St. Elizabeth Hospital, in an April 15 letter to its staff, appears to be gearing up to reduce staffing or even furlough workers.

“Over the past several weeks we have seen the census at St. Elizabeth and all FHS sites drop significantly,” hospital Vice President of Operations and COO Renee Yanchura wrote. A hospital census is how many people are admitted on a daily basis. “As a result of decreased hospital census… we are seeing a significant financial impact that must be addressed in order to ensure our long-tern financial stability.”

According to Yanchura, the hospital’s emergency department volumes are down 50 percent, inpatient and birth volumes are fluctuating, and “surgery volumes are at a historic low.”

When the hospital had low admittance days, staff were redeployed elsewhere throughout the hospital, but “due to our continued decrease in volumes… we are implementing plans to further manage our expenses accordingly,” Yanchura continued.

Among those plans are requiring managers and leaders to take paid time off between now through June; executive leaders are receiving a pay cut; and continuing to re-assign staff where necessary, or offer paid time off or voluntary furloughs.

“If we don’t react appropriately now, we will be faced with even more difficulties in the future,” Yanchura wrote. “I feel confidant that our positive, optimistic culture at St. Elizabeth will carry us through, and together we will come out of the COVID-19 pandemic a stronger team.”




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