Hospitals furlough workers as they feel financial burden of fighting Covid-19

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GREENVILLE, S.C. (WSPA)- Hospitals across the country are cutting pay and furloughing workers, and health care workers in the Upstate are feeling the impact.

Prisma Health has announced 3,900 of its 30,000 workers are being furloughed. AnMed Health has announced reduced salary for executives and furloughs that may last for up to three months. Spartanburg Regional Health Care System is also cutting management salaries and furloughing workers.

Christian Soura, who is Vice President of Policy and Finance of the South Carolina Hospital Association says one reason for the cuts is that health systems had to hit pause on elective procedures.

“Unfortunately, those elective procedures tend to be the ones that pay the bills,” Soura said.

Elective procedures are those that are pre-planned by patients and their doctors.

Hospital systems also say office visits are down and costs are up because of Covid-19.

A spokesperson from Spartanburg Regional Healthcare System says they’re facing “markedly higher pricing” for Covid-19 supplies.

In the same way some businesses have to shut down to preserve social distancing, some aspects of hospitals are having to move their resources away from elective procedures that can wait to preserve protective equipment and bed space in the battle against Covid-19.

“We’ve taken that step to preserve the limited protective equipment that’s available and to make sure that we have beds available as well if they’re needed for a surge,” Soura said.

Health economist Dr. Melanie Cozad, who is an assistant professor at the University of South Carolina, says health systems are businesses, and they’re being impacted by this unexpected pandemic like other business operations, even as they fight it.

“Health systems want to be careful with their resources to make sure that they have enough funds available to be able to purchase the resources and have them available for the Covid-19 patients,” Cozad said.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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