Bon Secours Mercy Health on Tuesday informed employees that they will be furloughed if their work doesn't involve treating COVID-19 patients, citing financial losses and the coronavirus pandemic.
In a letter, health system president and CEO John Starcher said COVID-19 has had an unprecedented impact on the healthcare industry and has led Bon Secours Mercy Health to project it will suffer operating losses of $100 million per month. That's forced the provider to institute a hiring freeze, wage freezes and furlough employees.
"Even though we were financially strong entering this crisis and are in a better position than many other health systems, our response to this pandemic has placed a tremendous financial burden on our ministry's resources," Starcher wrote.
Furloughed employees will be paid through April 3, and the health system will then pay out any PTO those workers have accrued. They will be eligible for enhanced unemployment, as well as the BSMH Associate Hardship Fund, which recently received $60 million from the Bon Secours Mercy Health Foundation.
"Our responsibility is clear: as the virus continues to spread, Bon Secours Mercy Health must ensure that necessary caregivers, support medical services and resources are available for the patients and residents who need our life-saving care," Starcher wrote.
The decision was informed by models and data from other countries affected by COVID-19, and Starcher praised the clinicians' work so far in treating patients.
"If we're to ensure we can support the clinicians and provide resources necessary to care for pandemic victims—we cannot simply hope things will change, and we cannot wish the timing would be different—action must be taken now," he wrote.