MUSC Health lays off 900 in response to ‘unprecedented’ financial deficits from COVID-19

Updated: Apr. 6, 2020 at 11:11 PM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - Officials with MUSC Health say they are temporarily laying off 900 health care team members and are reducing pay for employees.

Every member of the MUSC Health team will see some impact to their pay, including a 20% reduction for leaders, a 15% reduction for salaried employees and a reduction in work hours for hourly paid employees who do not provide direct patient care, according to a statement by MUSC.

MUSC officials emphasize that at this time, frontline health care team members, who have already seen fewer work hours due to COVID-19 response, will not see any additional pay cuts so that MUSC Health can continue to be prepared to face the public health crisis as it unfolds.

According to MUSC President David J. Cole, the health care network is implementing what they are calling a “workforce realignment” as the network works through "unprecedented and serious” financial deficits from the COVID-19 epidemic.

Cole released a letter to staff on Monday stating that the demands and “health care delivery imbalances" originating from the treatment of the virus have placed the hospital in significant financial duress.

Cole said the “workforce realignment" affects every employee of MUSC Health.

He said hard decisions will be made which will impact team members and their families.

“I can assure you that these decisions, which were complex, difficult, and yes, imperfect, weigh heavily on all of MUSC’s leaders,” Cole said."I wish the reality we are confronting were a different one. I hope there is some small comfort in knowing that we will do all that we possibly can to ensure that such large-scale disruption to individuals’ lives, in and outside of MUSC, is not in vain and as short as possible."

According to Cole, hospital officials are also reviewing stimulus funds the hospital might qualify for to alleviate some of the financial pressures.

“There are no guarantees on the timing or amount of our portion of these funds,” Cole said."I can promise you that we are engaged in understanding eligibility, timing for distribution and the amount of funds we may receive."

When state officials urged hospitals to halt or significantly reduce procedures that were not urgent, MUSC officials said that they complied, and since that time surgical volumes have been decreased by 75%, inpatient encounters decreased by 30% and ambulatory encounters have been reduced by 70%.

As a result, leaders at MUSC said they are taking action to diminish financial damage by the crisis.

“Every action is linked to maintaining the short- and long-term capability and viability of the health system,” MUSC officials said.

Mitigation strategies MUSC officials say they using to address the COVID-19 crisis include:

  • Transition 80% of ambulatory/outpatient visits to telehealth
  • Reduce purchased and contractual services
  • Reduce supply utilization to match volume and critical needs
  • Delay capital expenditures
  • Adjust and realign workforce to sustain essential services with compensation reduction and temporary layoffs
  • Delay capital expenditures
  • Adjust and realign workforce to sustain essential services with compensation reduction and temporary layoffs

In addition on Monday afternoon, officials reported the number of patients testing positive for the novel coronavirus at MUSC Health’s West Ashley specimen collection site is continuing to increase.

Officials with the health care network announced that close to 4,500 people have been seen at the makeshift facility near the Citadel Mall.

A total of 292 positive cases have been associated with MUSC Health outpatients and people who have been tested at the West Ashley site.

Copyright 2020 WCSC. All rights reserved.