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Tenet furloughs non-COVID-19 related workers

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Tenet Health Central Coast furloughed some of its medical staff, but hospital officials say the furloughs will not impact coronavirus-related medical services.

In a statement to New Times, Tenet representatives said that with the shelter-in-place orders and cancellation or postponement of most elective procedures, some hospitals units—which are not related to the COVID-19 crisis or other critical patient care needs—have been closed or ramped down.

STAFFED AND READY Amid furloughs Tenet Health Central Coast said it is appropriately staffed to provide full support to treat patients. - FILE PHOTO
  • File Photo
  • STAFFED AND READY Amid furloughs Tenet Health Central Coast said it is appropriately staffed to provide full support to treat patients.

"We have taken steps to divert additional resources to COVID-19 care and other urgent medical procedures that cannot be deferred. This includes flexing down costs and implementing furloughs for certain jobs where we need, or are required to, limit activity due to the current environment," the statement read.

Tenet declined to comment on how many employees were furloughed.

The health care corporation said that it's providing all furloughed employees with their elected medical benefits at no cost to them. Although Tenet postponed the annual funding for its 401(k) match until later this year, furloughed employees are getting the match now so they can have that resource in the near-term.

"Our expectation is that we can return impacted staff to service once we navigate through this unprecedented time and our core business gets back to normal. These actions do not impact direct bedside nursing care for COVID-19 and do not impact emergency or medically necessary care access for patients with other medical conditions," the statement read. "We remain appropriately staffed to provide our full support to treat patients in the Central Coast and prepare for a potential surge."

According to an April 7 report by Becker's Healthcare, a health care industry publication, many hospitals and health systems across the U.S. have suspended non-emergent procedures to save capacity, supplies, and staff to treat COVID-19 patients.

As a result, several health care systems "have lost or expect to lose a large chunk of their annual revenue, forcing them to make cost reduction a top priority."

The report is updated daily as health care systems announce furloughs. As of April 22, 157 hospitals and health care systems have announced furloughs, layoffs, or pay reductions.

In an interview with New Times on April 2, Dr. Brad Knox, an emergency physician at Tenet's Sierra Vista and Twin Cities hospitals, said from an administrative standpoint there had been a huge drop in patients around the county.

"Our numbers are down about 60 to 70 percent, whereas we would have seen typically 80 patients on a busy day in a 24 hour period, we're now seeing maybe 30 or 25," Dr. Knox said.

External communications manager for Dignity Health Central Coast Division Sara San Juan said Dignity Health Central Coast Hospitals have not furloughed any staff and have no plans to do so at this time. Δ

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