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Analysis

With COVID-19 Surge Expected, Appalachian Regional Furloughs 500 Staff

By John Commins  
   March 29, 2020

The temporary layoffs at the Lexington, Kentucky-based health system will affect 8% of its 6,000 employees, who were given the news on Friday.

Appalachian Regional Healthcare is temporarily furloughing 500 employees across its 13 hospitals in eastern Kentucky and southern West Virginia as part of a focus on essential services for an expected surge in COVID-19 patients.

"In this time of unprecedented uncertainty, this was not an easy decision to make," ARH Vice President of Human Resources Sonya Bergman said in a media release. "The temporary furloughs are in the best interest of the health of our employees and the community."

The furloughs will affect 8% of ARH’s 6,000 employees, who were given the news on Friday, Bergman said.

"As healthcare providers, we are on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic and need to do everything we can to ensure we have the right clinical resources in place, including staff, supplies and equipment, to prepare for a COVID-19 patient surge," she said.

The Lexington-based health system confirm its first COVID-19 patient on March 21 at its 358-bed Hazard ARH Regional Medical Center.

Layoffs are being announced daily across the nation, as health systems grapple with the double-whammy of losing precious dollars from government-mandated postponed or cancelled elective surgeries, and by estimates that treating COVID-19 will be a money loser.

Strata Decision Technology research recently noted that, despite a $114 billion federal stimulus package for the nation's healthcare delivery system, many hospitals would not have sufficient cash flows to survive for the next two to three months.

Strata projects that hospitals will lose an average of $1,200 per case, with some providers losing between $6,000 to $8,000 on the high end.

Bergman said ARH has seen a 30% decrease in its overall business operations from a decline in patient volumes and the closure of elective services because of the pandemic.

"When it is safe for our employees to resume work as normal and patient volumes return, we plan to restore services and bring these employees back," she said. 

“In this time of unprecedented uncertainty, this was not an easy decision to make.”

John Commins is a content specialist and online news editor for HealthLeaders, a Simplify Compliance brand.


KEY TAKEAWAYS

The Lexington-based health system identified its first COVID-19 patient on March 21 at its 358-bed Hazard ARH Regional Medical Center.

ARH has seen a 30% decrease in its overall business operations from a decline in patient volumes and the closure of services related to the pandemic.

Layoffs are being announced daily across the nation, as health systems grapple with the double-whammy of losing precious dollars from postponed elective services, and by estimates that treating COVID-19 will be a money loser.


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