CORONAVIRUS

Mercy Iowa City announces 'limited' furloughs, reduction to staff hours

Measures to last 12 weeks at most, officials say

A COVID-19 screening area was built at Mercy Iowa City. (Andy Abeyta/The Gazette)
A COVID-19 screening area was built at Mercy Iowa City. (Andy Abeyta/The Gazette)

IOWA CITY — Mercy Iowa City has announced this week a portion of its staff will face furloughs and reduction in hours as a result of the novel coronavirus pandemic.

Hospital system officials confirmed to The Gazette Wednesday that approximately 7.5 percent of staff will be affected by “a temporary reduction in hours and limited furloughs” after decreased patient volumes has led to a drop in revenue.

“The postponement of hundreds of procedures and surgeries, along with the costs incurred to prepare for a surge of patients with COVID-19, resulted in a corresponding decrease in revenue,” Mercy Iowa City spokeswoman Margaret Reese wrote in an email.

The organization employs about 1,400 clinicians and staff in the hospital and its clinics.

Officials say they don’t expect these measures to last longer than 12 weeks. Staff impacted by furloughs or reduced hours will be brought back when patient volumes return to their previous levels, Reese added.

In addition, hospital executives and the management team will see their salaries reduced until the system returns to previous patient volumes.

The decision is tied solely to the Iowa City-based hospital, and not the MercyOne health care system. MercyOne affiliated hospitals — which includes Mercy Iowa City — are making business decisions appropriate to their individual organizations, Reese said.

“Mercy Iowa City is providing resources to assist affected colleagues, including a continuation of benefits,” Reese wrote.

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UnityPoint Health, one of the largest hospital systems in the country and based in West Des Moines, announced similar measures this past month. Officials there implemented temporary reduction in staff hours and furloughs as well as pay cuts for executive staff the last week of April to help the system “focus resources and optimize the response to COVID-19.”

Comments: (319) 398-8469; michaela.ramm@thegazette.com

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