Las Cruces Sun News: Local hospitals have placed employees on temporary…

By Micheal McDevitt | April 14, 2020

LAS CRUCES – Local hospitals have placed employees on temporary leave or furlough as the facilities have reduced operations to focus on dealing with the novel coronavirus pandemic.

Memorial Medical Center decided to place 125 hospital employees on temporary leave, a spokesperson from MMC said in a statement. When you add in Memorial’s clinic employees, the number rises to nearly 170, the spokesperson said.

The temporary leave affected nearly all departments and will last 60 days. Some employees began their leave April 8, others on April 10.

MMC said the employees will earn partial pay during their leave equal to 25 percent of their salaries. The employees on leave will also receive the same benefits they had while fully employed, the spokesperson said.

Hospital officers at MMC will also be taking 10 percent salary reductions for the next two months.

The hospital said the pandemic’s physical distancing practices and the statewide stay-at-home order has led MMC to experience “significant decreases in volume and the utilization of services.”

The spokesperson said 67 of the hospital and medical group’s 1,500 employees will be furloughed. He didn’t say employees would be paid but said they’ll keep their benefits. The furlough’s length will depend on the duration of the pandemic and its subsequent closures.

Along with physical distancing measures affecting hospital operations, both Las Cruces hospitals have been impacted by the prohibition of elective and non-urgent health procedures.

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham ordered a ban on elective surgeries and non-urgent procedures at New Mexico hospitals during the pandemic to preserve protective medical gear. It went into effect March 27.

MMC said it had begun the process of rescheduling elective surgical, procedural and imaging studies earlier than that, on March 18.

The MMC spokesperson said the impact of the coronavirus has been a reduction in the number of patients overall coming into the hospital. The hospital is still open for emergencies and non-elective procedures, like diagnostics for cancer. MMC said it’s been shifting the number of staff accordingly.

“When there are fewer patients, less staff are needed,” the MMC spokesperson said. “The COVID-19 pandemic has led to significantly decreased patient volumes for a number of weeks leading up to this point.”

A MountainView spokesperson said the hospital is “flexing schedules and reassigning individuals to other areas so we have the resources to maintain operations should a surge in COVID-19 patients occur.”

Hospitals across the country have cut staff as operations are reduced, leading to large dips in annual revenue. Altarum, a nonprofit research and consulting firm, reported April 3 that 43,000 health care workers had lost their jobs in the first month of the COVID-19 pandemic, the largest loss in 30 years.

The MMC spokesperson added that the LifePoint Health’s Chief Executive Officer’s and executive leadership team’s salaries will decrease by 30 percent for a minimum of the next two months. LifePoint Health is MMC’s parent company.

All those who work at the LifePoint Health Support Center will be getting 5 to 20 percent pay cuts, too.Michael McDevitt can be reached at 575-202-3205, or @MikeMcDTweets on Twitter.

Please view the entire article at Las Cruces Sun-News.