Layoffs, Furloughs, In the Wake of the COVID-19 Crisis
During a health crisis as massive as the COVID-19 pandemic, the last thing you’d expect is for healthcare workers to be losing their jobs and facing pay cuts; Unfortunately, this is the reality currently being faced across the country.
The healthcare industry has always been touted as being somewhat economy-proof. People are always going to need nurses and doctors, hospitals, and medications. Yet now, when people are relying on healthcare workers the most, and many hospitals are desperate for help, the industry is seeing an increase in furloughs and layoffs. That’s right, ladies and gentlemen. Let’s dive into this newest problem to affect thousands of medical professionals around the country.
According to a recent Becker’s Hospital CFO Report 105 hospitals are currently furloughing their healthcare workers. The healthcare media source has been tracking furloughs since March 27th, with the numbers growing almost daily and often totaling to hundreds of workers in single facilities suddenly finding themselves temporarily unemployed. According to a recent report by research firm, Altarum, there were an astonishing 43,000 healthcare jobs lost.
In some cases, furloughed workers are given a timeline on when they can expect to come back, others aren’t so lucky. The same can be said for benefits; While a portion of healthcare facilities are keeping employees on active benefit plans, a significant amount is not. In all situations, however, there’s one commonality – affected healthcare workers have been suddenly thrust into scary and uncertain positions. In a recent interview with ABC News, a staff member at HIllcrest Medical System in Oklahoma, Leanne Helmrich, said of the 600 recently furloughed employees, “It’s a big pot of emotions,” Helmerich said. “But mostly I’m worried about how I’m going to pay the bills.”
Why It’s Happening
Simply put, there aren’t any patients coming in for non-emergency services. Elective procedures and tests aren’t being performed right now for the most part; Primary care visits have significantly dropped. NPR ran a story on April 2nd, where an OB-GYN, Dr.Kathryn Davis, saw a 50% reduction in revenue at her practice. Similarly, a large independent physician group (IPA) in Massachusetts, Atrius Health, reported a 75% drop in patient visits. Another health care system, Steward Health Care, recently told their employees in a statement, “Elective surgeries are the cornerstone of our hospital system’s operating model — and the negative impact due to the cancellations of these procedures cannot be overstated. In addition, patients are understandably cautious and choosing to defer any non-emergency treatments or routine visits until this crisis has passed.”
What You Can Do
If you’ve recently found yourself furloughed, or experiencing a significant drop in income or hours, you should be eligible to apply for unemployment through your state’s unemployment insurance program. A recent relief law has also authorized eligible recipients to receive an additional $600 per week through the end of July. While receiving unemployment benefits, there is also the opportunity to volunteer where help is desperately needed. The director of Iowa Workforce Development, Beth Townsend, recently told USA Today, “We really could use you back in our workforce, even if it’s just to volunteer,” said Beth Townsend, director of Iowa Workforce Development. “With the addition of the stimulus benefits, you’re going to be collecting money for unemployment, and if you have some time and capacity, we would love you to come and work in our health care facilities where we really need you to work.”
Use Your Skills
If you want to help out the cities that have been impacted, check out our list of agencies that have been sending Nurses to help out!
If you have experienced this hardship and have suggestions for your fellow Nurses, please share your experience in our comments!
● USA Today, Coronavirus Pandemic Jobs US Health
● NPR, COVID-19 Hits Some Health Care Workers With Pay Cuts and Layoffs
● Becker’s Hospital Review, Becker’s Hospital CFO Report
● ABC News, Health Care Workers Fear Losing Their Jobs During Coronavirus Pandemic