Pay cuts, furloughs, and layoffs for doctors, nurses, and other healthcare workers are mounting as the coronavirus pandemic hits hospitals

Hospitals are seeing massive revenue losses during the coronavirus pandemic, and their workers are taking a direct financial hit.(Win McNamee/Getty Images)Healthcare workers are facing pay cuts, reassignments, furloughs, and layoffs caused by coronavirus social distancing rules and shutdowns.”Because it’s this huge healthcare crisis, you don’t expect healthcare workers to be impacted in this way,” one…

Pay cuts, furloughs, and layoffs for doctors, nurses, and other healthcare workers are mounting as the coronavirus pandemic hits hospitals

Hospitals are seeing massive revenue losses during the coronavirus pandemic, and their workers are taking a direct financial hit.(Win McNamee/Getty Images)Healthcare workers are facing pay cuts, reassignments, furloughs, and layoffs caused by coronavirus social distancing rules and shutdowns.”Because it’s this huge healthcare crisis, you don’t expect healthcare workers to be impacted in this way,” one nurse told Business Insider. Hospitals are seeing reductions in surgeries and visits, even as others see surges of coronavirus cases.Congress passed a $2 trillion coronavirus relief package in March called the CARES Act that provides $100 billion for hospitals, but that hasn’t stopped the cuts.Lawmakers are now debating hazard pay for frontline workers, and Democrats want to give the hospital industry another $100 billion in relief funding.Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.Before the coronavirus pandemic, St. Clair Hospital in Pittsburgh would have 40 to 60 surgeries a day on the calendar. But now, a surgery nurse tells Business Insider, only about five to 15 are scheduled for any given day.The hospital is down to procedures that need to be done quickly for a patient’s health, such as fixing broken bones or performing appendectomies. More surgeries can come up in cases of emergency, but the volume of surgeries has dropped.”There are probably about seven or eight nurses on, and half the time you don’t have anything to do,” the nurse said. “It’s like a waiting game to just clock out.”But the St. Clair nurses don’t want to clock out early, given that they already have been hit with fewer hours, lowering their pay, the nurse said. Hospitals in parts of the country where a lot of people are infected with the coronavirus are overwhelmed with patients to test and treat, but other hospitals — or other parts of a hospital — are far more deserted.This nurse and others who spoke for this story asked their names not be shared because they feared they might lose their jobs for speaking out. Business Insider verified their identities.Doctor visits have moved online, and because people are shuttered inside following stay-at-home orders, they’re less likely to get hurt from playing sports or falling off a bike. Patients are calling to cancel surgeries that can wait, and hospitals themselves are moving back appointments following orders from federal and state officials. Never miss out on healthcare news. Subscribe to Dispensed, Business Insider’s weekly newsletter on pharma, biotech, and healthcare.That’s leading to a loss in revenue and leaving healthcare workers taking a direct financial hit. Across the US, hospitals are slashing pay, laying off workers, reassigning people to other departments, or cutting hours. Labor Department data from March shows some of the biggest employment declines occurred in outpatient settings, while overall hospital employment was roughly flat.At St. Clair, some healthcare workers have been placed on a one-week-on, one-week-off schedule, reducing their pay. The St. Clair nurse has started taking shifts in another unit because otherwise her paycheck would be cut in half. Before the pandemic, she had been looking forward to picking up overtime to help pay off student loans. ‘You never know what you’re going to walk into'”Going to work every day is rough,” she said. “You never know what you’re going to walk into.”All the while, healthcare workers brace for when they might be hit with a surge of coronavirus patients themselves.St. Clair did not respond to a request for comment, but memos from hospital leadership, obtained by Business Insider, shows the hospital gave employees another week of paid time off. The hospital is also letting workers who exhaust their paid time off incur a negative balance for up to a week, and providing a fund for workers in financial hardship. The memos don’t detail how many workers had their hours cut.”Some employees will be redeployed to meet other critical needs and some, unfortunately, will be flexed down,” Andrea Kalina, senior vice president at St. Clair, said in a memo dated March 25.For hospitals like St. Clair, relief is supposed to be on the way. Congress passed a $2 trillion coronavirus relief package in March called the CARES Act, and while it provides $100 billion for hospitals, the promise of the funding hasn’t been able to stop the drastic job changes
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