CHESTERFIELD — Mercy said Friday that it expects to furlough workers across its four-state system and cut jobs due to the economic toll of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The furloughs will affect “thousands” of Mercy employees, according to an email from the system’s CEO, forwarded to the Post-Dispatch by an employee.
Hospitals large and small have felt the financial toll of the pandemic. Many have canceled elective procedures in order to preserve critical supplies and limit transmission of the virus, plummeting revenues. At the same time, spending has increased, as hospitals ready themselves to treat COVID-19 patients.
Mercy and other major area hospital systems have been canceling all care that could be delayed for eight weeks or more. Mercy has only recently begun slowly adding back some canceled procedures.
On Friday, Mercy released a statement saying it will begin furloughing employees across its four-state system starting next week and through the end of July as needed. The Chesterfield-based hospital network is also eliminating positions. The system said it will provide severance packages to those employees.
This will affect, the statement said, “every level of the organization, impacting every department and every community we serve.”
Mercy, which has locations in Missouri, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Kansas, did not provide the number of employees who will be affected. Mercy’s statement said the system is “still working to keep as many co-workers employed as possible.”
Mercy said health insurance will be provided to furloughed employees. Mercy is also making 80 hours of pay available through its crisis fund of paid time off.
Mercy leaders will earn up to 26% less this year.
Annual merit raises might also be delayed, and 401k and 403b contributions and matches will not be made for 2020.
No open positions will be filled for the foreseeable future without approval from senior leadership.
These cost-cutting measures follow similar steps taken by other systems.
SSM Health said on April 28 that it will furlough about 2,000 employees systemwide, or about 5% of its workforce. The system’s volumes have declined by about half.
BJC HealthCare said Monday that it was identifying employees who will be furloughed. BJC has seen volumes decline by about half, for all care unrelated to COVID-19.