Hospital furloughs 300 workers amid virus’s financial strain

March 26, 2020 GMT

MOREHEAD, Ky. (AP) — One of the largest hospital systems in northern Kentucky furloughed a quarter of its staff Thursday in order to financially sustain its clinical operations amid the spread of the new coronavirus, officials said.

St. Claire HealthCare in Morehead announced it was furloughing 300 staff members who aren’t involved in the COVID-19 response, The Lexington Herald-Leader reported.

SCH President and CEO Donald H. Lloyd said the decision will affect about 25% of the workforce and some remaining employees will have their hours reduced.


Lloyd said the staff will be recalled “as quickly as possible” either to respond to the potential surge of coronavirus patients or as state and federal funds become available. It was unclear how long the furlough will last. The hospital said it will cover medical, dental and vision insurance and help those applying for unemployment.

A spokeswoman said the hospital has not seen any patients diagnosed with COVID-19.

St. Clair temporarily suspended elective surgeries, screening diagnostic procedures, outpatient therapy services, sleep lab testing and aesthetic procedures, per an executive order from Gov. Andy Beshear. As a result, the hospital has seen a “significant decline” in patient visits over the past 10 days, subsequently leading to a drop in revenue, the newspaper reported, citing a news release.

“At this time, we don’t know if and when aid will reach our institution,” he said. “We are hopeful assistance will be available soon, but right now, we have to manage our operations with the resources we currently have available.”

More than 200 Kentuckians have been diagnosed with COVID-19. Beshear on Wednesday said the state is entering the phase of outbreak where case numbers may start doubling every one or two days as community spread gains momentum.

For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia and death. The vast majority of people recover.


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