NEW MEXICO (KRQE) – Furloughs, pay cuts, and reduced hours. Hundreds of hospital workers in New Mexico are no longer working, as hospitals lose millions and struggle to survive during this pandemic. Hospital officials say the challenge is balancing the resources needed to care for their sickest patients against the economic impact of postponed visits and canceled elective surgeries.

On March 25, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham amended the state’s public health order to eliminate elective medical procedures. Tuesday, Christus St. Vincent in Santa Fe put 300 staff members on temporary leave for at least 90 days. According to their three-month projections, their net revenues will continue to be down approximately $10 million each month.

Over in Farmington, San Juan County Regional Medical Center has limited its staff to emergency and urgent care services only, hospital leadership has also agreed to take a pay cut. “Furloughed employees will retain their benefits and will be subject to a return to work when volumes return to normal levels after the pandemic,” says CEO Jeff Bourgeois.

Lovelace officials tell us they’ve reduced hours and cut pay for 15% of their staff, that’s expected to last 90 days. UNM hospital says they haven’t had any furloughs or layoffs but they say they’ve had to postpone more than 700 elective surgeries and another 200 at Sandoval Regional Medical Center. They say it’s too early to discuss any potential losses.

Presbyterian tells us despite 70% fewer surgeries, through April 30, staff pay will not be affected.

Wednesday morning the union representing hospital and healthcare workers says they’ll be protesting outside UNM Hospital saying the hospital hasn’t addressed serious concerns about working conditions during the pandemic and access to PPE.

Memo sent from Christus St. Vincent in Santa Fe

Good Morning Team CSV,

COVID-19 has dramatically changed the way we live and work.  We’ve been observing the unfolding as COVID-19 entered our country, our state, and now our community.  It’s been incredibly difficult to watch the impact to the lives and livelihood of nearly every person while also witnessing the economic devastation that COVID-19 is inflicting on even of the strongest of organizations.

One month can make a big difference. In February, we were on track to achieve nearly all of our goals for quality, stewardship, experience, and engagement.  In  March, as people sheltered in place, in response to COVID-19, Christus St. Vincent has seen a nearly 35% decline in the number of patients we are caring for in our hospital and in the clinics. In addition, we are only performing urgent, elective surgeries so our volumes have decreased dramatically. As you know, revenue is critical to remain a strong and financially sound hospital. It’s what keeps us whole.  Based on our March experience, and assuming that this COVID-19 journey will last 3 months, we project that our net revenues will continue to be down approximately $10M per month.

We have joined the growing list of healthcare organizations and businesses, all struggling with COVID-19 financial impacts. In response to this significant drop in revenue, we have reviewed expenses to make both permanent and temporary changes that we feel will ensure our ability to meet the current needs of our community. Organization-wide, we have been managing to volume, we have temporarily closed or consolidated departments and clinics, have eliminated or reduced vendor contracts, eliminated agency/locums where we could, are reducing our leased space, temporary comp reductions are in process for physicians and the executive team, and we will continue managing to volume house-wide. These changes enhance the likelihood that we can and will bounce back strongly after COVID-19.  

On that note, it saddens me to say that there is more. During this unprecedented crisis, today, 300 of our Team CSV Associates will be placed on Temporary Low Volume Leave (TLVL) for a period of up to 90 days, or longer if determined necessary. If you are one of the 300 Associates impacted, your leader will schedule a conversation with you today and, during that meeting, you will receive an email that speaks to what this means for you, including resources should you need them. This is temporary and you will retain your status as an Associate. We will continue to communicate with you via your personal email address and by phone and, we may call you back into service sooner.  Know this: Our plan is to do all we can to get you back into service as quick as possible. You remain Team CSV and we need you.

To make this incredibly difficult decision, we conducted a full review of all business essential functions to identify those positions that were not business critical and/or are not direct patient care positions in which the work connected with those positions could be temporarily suspended or absorbed by other members of the team for at least 90 days, or longer.  For those not on leave, we still have important work to do, a surge is on the horizon. For the impact on Team CSV and for our Associates that will be on leave, I’m incredibly heart-broken. 

We will get through this tough time. We know how to do hard things, we tackle tough issues with gusto, we overcome the greatest of challenges with pride, and we do it all so very well. I’m sure of it, just as I am sure that We Got This, and We Always Will.