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April 8, 2020

Trinity Health hospitals furlough undisclosed number of non-clinical staff

Photo | HBJ File St. Francis Hospital and Medical Center has banned most visitors.

Trinity Health of New England is the latest Connecticut health system to implement temporary furloughs or reduced hours for employees who are not needed in the response to the COVID-19 pandemic that is expected to surge in area hospitals over the next month or so.

Trinity, which owns St. Francis Hospital and Medical Center in Hartford, Johnson Memorial Hospital in Stafford Springs, St. Mary’s Hospital in Waterbury and Mercy Medical Center in Springfield, Mass., did not disclose the number of impacted employees. 

“While the majority of our colleagues will continue to work full time in their current roles, we are redeploying some colleagues to different roles and locations, reducing hours and temporarily furloughing a portion of our workforce, primarily non-clinical colleagues,” Trinity said in a statement. “This will enable us to focus our resources on the functions directly related to essential COVID-19 patient care needs we anticipate, while protecting people and helping to prevent the spread of the virus.”

Trinity is also reducing executive compensation, freezing many of its capital expenditures and reducing discretionary spending.

The health system said it is doing everything it can to expand its capacity, clinical staffing and vital equipment as the surge approaches.

“We are committed to our patients, colleagues and all those we serve in our communities, and we are making a number of incredibly difficult decisions that will take effect over the coming weeks,” Trinity said.

Trinity’s Michigan-based parent recently announced 2,500 furloughs in its home state, representing about 10% of its area workforce, would be happening within several weeks.

Other Connecticut hospitals have already disclosed coronavirus-related furloughs, including Bristol Hospital, Connecticut Children’s Medical Center and Danbury Hospital.

A loss of revenue from surgeries and other procedures that have been postponed or canceled is costing Connecticut hospitals a combined $400 million per month, according to an estimate from the Connecticut Hospital Association.

On Wednesday, CHA said it doesn’t have an estimate for how many hospital workers have been furloughed in the state.

“Hospitals have completely shifted operations due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” CHA said in a statement. “Their prime focus now is treating or preparing to treat COVID patients, many of whom require critical care.  This has meant quickly expanding intensive care units, eliminating non-essential surgeries and reorienting hospital operations to meet this challenge. This new focus has impacted hospital staff with many of them being asked to take on new duties and roles. It hasn’t been easy on them.  Hospitals have tried to ease the transition by providing additional training, assisting with child care, trying to adapt schedules, and updating leave and pay policies.  In some instances, due to changing operations, furloughs have been required.”

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