UnityPoint Health has announced reduction in staff hours and furloughs, as well as pay cuts for its executive staff, starting next week as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Officials with the West Des Moines-based health system said in a news release Tuesday these temporary measures “were needed to focus resources and optimize the response to COVID-19.”
Effective Sunday, there will be short-term, limited reduction in hours for administrative, support, ancillary and clinical staff and leadership across the system, including all hospitals, clinics, home care and support areas.
Officials also are implementing furloughs or reduction in hours available to work for those areas of the system that “are not operating at capacity or experiencing closures.”
The majority of staff who are directly caring for COVID-19 patients will not be affected as a result of these changes, said UnityPoint Health Spokeswoman Christine Zrostlik.
In addition, all executives at the vice president level and above will take a 15 percent reduction in their pay.
The 13th largest nonprofit health system in the United States, UnityPoint Health employs more than 30,000 throughout Iowa, western Illinois and southern Wisconsin.
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The system is facing “unprecedented challenges” as a result of the global coronavirus pandemic, which has led to patient volume declines, the news release said. According to Zrostlik, more than half of UnityPoint Health staff have been impacted as a result of lower volumes, cancellation of elective procedures and temporary closures of services, creating reduction in hours and associated compensation.
To “emerge from the current situation in a strong position,” UnityPoint Health has paused elective services, deferred or delayed all capital projects and reduced unnecessary spending, among other steps. The workforce changes are the latest move in this strategy.
“The COVID-19 crisis has challenged UnityPoint Health as a care provider and as an employer,” UnityPoint Health President and CEO Kevin Vermeer said in a statement. “While we remain focused on providing the best care possible for our patients, it’s critical we conserve our resources wherever possible.
“These changes in our workforce are needed to ensure we can continue meeting the health care needs of our communities into the future.”
UnityPoint Health is providing resources to affected team members, which include continuation of benefits and financial assistance for staff who qualify.
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