East Texas hospitals furlough workers amid COVID-19 pandemic

Stay-at-home orders and cautious patients considered some of the reasons for financial loss

East Texas hospitals furlough workers amid COVID-19 pandemic

TYLER, Texas (KLTV) - East Texas hospitals are temporarily furloughing workers and adjusting hours in response to the financial impact caused by COVID-19.

In statements sent to KLTV, both UT Health East Texas and CHRISTUS Health said they are adjusting staffing due to a decline in non-COVID patients.

“We have sought to minimize position eliminations by realigning services and making staffing changes including reduction of hours and furloughs,” said Moody Chisholm, UT Health East Texas President and CEO.

According to a statement, about 10% of UT Health East Texas employees are affected. The furloughs average 90 days, but the system may call employees back earlier if they are needed. Employees will retain their benefits during furloughs. The hospital says they are assisting those affected with applications for unemployment benefits and the weekly federal subsidy. Furloughs also allow employees to retain their paid time off benefits.

Senior hospital executives locally and at the corporate level are also taking a pay cut, according to the statement.

“I think every system across the country is having to look at what they have to do to continue to provide care and services in this rather challenging environment," said Dr. Tom Cummins, Chief Medical Officer of UT Health East Texas, at a news conference on Thursday.

CHRISTUS Health says while they are also not instituting layoffs, they are adjusting staffing. According to a statement from system leaders, they are supporting furloughed employees by including expanded paid time off and allowing workers to keep their healthcare benefits.

“Patients themselves, either out of an over-abundance of caution and hopefully not out of fear are not presenting to healthcare systems for their care like they used to before," said Dr. Mark Anderson, Chief Medical Officer for CHRISTUS. "Neglecting your own health, whether it’s diabetes or your heart, is a terrible outcome. More people have died form heart disease and diabetes than from COVID-19. We can’t stop providing care for these people. They need to come to us so we can care for them.”

KLTV has reached out to other East Texas hospital systems for information on similar impacts.

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