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Some hospitals cutting hours, furloughing staff due to lost revenue during coronavirus pandemic

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Posted at 5:19 PM, Apr 03, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-06 18:49:55-04

SARASOTA, Fla. -- Sarasota Memorial Hospital notified staff on Friday of cutting hours and furloughs due to financial losses from the coronavirus pandemic.

Sarasota Memorial says they lost $16 million dollars in revenue just in the month of March because of COVID-19 precautions.

The hospital currently is treating more than 30 patients with the virus.

But to prevent spreading they've had to cancel all non-emergency procedures, cutting the number of surgeries in half.

SMH says the financial hit is expected to be even greater in April and May.

“This was an extremely difficult decision and one that we did not make lightly,” said CEO David Verinder in a letter to employees on Friday. “Staff have gone above and beyond to care for our patients throughout this crisis, even as they have been anxious about the health and well-being of themselves and their families."

Sadly, this trend isn’t only local. Tens of thousands of hospital workers and healthcare staff across the country are facing the same issue.

SMH says they are not cutting back nursing care or or anyone on the front lines.

The hospital says of the 7,000-plus employees on staff, more than half work in nonclinical and support departments or areas that have temporarily shut down, such as medical fitness center, sleep lab, non-urgent outpatient, rehabilitation and disease management clinics.

SMH says some employees will be flexed, meaning their hours will be reduced to match declining volumes. Others will be furloughed, or placed on a temporary leave from work. They say furloughed staff will keep their positions and be called back to work once the hospital resumes normal operations, or earlier if they are needed during this crisis.

To help ease the burden, SMH says they are letting employees who accrue Paid Time Off (PTO) to go into a negative balance up to 80 hours, creating an extra cushion of financial support for flexed and furloughed staff. SMH says they also will continue to cover the cost of furloughed staff’s benefits for at least 90 days. If PTO hours become depleted, they say staff can apply for unemployment to help cover lost wages.

“Once the pandemic abates, I am hopeful that we will bounce back quickly, thanks to the reputation, resilience and strength of our team and the support of our community," said Verinder.

As of Monday evening, five patients at Sarasota Memorial Hospital have died from coronavirus and 33 others are still at the hospital. Hospital officials say nine employees have tested positive and are being monitored at home.

More than 30 patients have been discharged from the hospital and are being monitored by the Florida Department of Health, Sarasota Memorial Hospital said.