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Virginia Mason Medical Center to furlough workers, cut pay amid Washington coronavirus crisis

Top medical center leaders notified managers of the decision this week, citing a 30% drop in revenue since the COVID-19 crisis began.

Virginia Mason Medical Center will furlough some of its employees and reduce compensation for others because of a sharp revenue drop amid the coronavirus outbreak, officials said. 

Medical center executives notified managers of the decision this week, citing a 30 percent decline in revenue since the covid-19 crisis began. They said the financial strain stems from a significant reduction in clinic visits and elective procedures that were halted when Gov. Jay Inslee issued a proclamation last month to free up protective gear for medical staff treating coronavirus patients.

"We rely substantially on outpatient revenue to ensure our financial viability,” wrote medical center executives in an internal memo to Virginia Mason leaders on Tuesday. “This is an unprecedented time and it calls for drastic measures.”

Gale Robinette, a Virginia Mason Medical Center spokesman, wrote in a statement that the medical center is temporarily modifying staffing and hours of operation at some of its outpatient facilities in response to low patient volumes. He declined to say how many employees will be furloughed or which Virginia Mason staff will be affected. 

“Some employment furloughs will occur but no layoffs are planned,” he wrote. “Our intent is that Virginia Mason be a smart steward of all its resources during this pandemic, protect our team members’ jobs long-term and remain a strong resource for the community now and in the years to come.”

He added that executives, leaders and some physicians would receive the temporary pay cuts. Virginia Mason will also take steps to reduce its non-labor expenses, Robinette said. 

Virginia Mason isn’t the only medical center to report a financial loss from the reduction of non-urgent medical procedures. Cassie Sauer, president of the Washington State Hospital Association, said some Washington hospital executives are now grappling with whether they’ll be forced to permanently shut their facility's doors. 

“Hospitals are going to have to make hard choices about how to stay open," Sauer said. "Most of the hospitals are saying they have about 50 percent of their normal revenue coming in, and they are also telling us that they have about 120 percent of their normal expenses. That is a bad combination." 

VIEW | Coronavirus coverage on KING 5 

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