Morehead hospital furloughs one-fourth of its employees

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MOREHEAD, Ky. (KT) - Even health care providers are not immune to layoffs stemming from the coronavirus pandemic.


St. Claire HealthCare, headquartered in Morehead, announced it is furloughing 25 percent of its workforce.


In a statement released Thursday, St. Claire said over the past 10 days it has experienced a significant decline in patient visits at clinic locations, ambulatory and ancillary locations, and within their medical education operations.  They say those numbers are projected to get worse before they get better, and no one ones know how long this pandemic will continue.


“We are grateful for the leadership and support of Gov. Andy Beshear and his administration during this public health crisis. We fully support his timely and effective actions to protect our patients, staff, and the public,” said Donald H. Lloyd, II, SCH President/CEO. “However, we must manage the consequences of such directives in order to support our clinical operations and COVID-19 response.


“We realize that our actions will have a tremendous impact on our staff and our community,” said Lloyd. “It’s not a decision we wanted to make, nor do we take it lightly; but we have to take immediate action to ensure that we can sustain our clinical operations during and after the COVID-19 crisis ends.”


St. Claire says it laid-off 300 staff who are not directly involved in the delivery of care or participating in the COVID-19 response.  In addition, some remaining staff members will experience a reduction in work hours until this crisis subsides.


“Our intent is for these furloughs to be temporary,” Lloyd said. “We hope to recall staff as quickly as possible, however, these are unprecedented times. We don’t know what the future holds or what recovery will look like.”


The laid-off employees will keep their positions and will be recalled as needed to respond to a surge of COVID-19 patients, or as federal and state funding becomes available or recovery of normal operations can begin.  In the meantime, Saint Clarie will cover the costs of furloughed medical, dental, and vision insurance and will provide assistance applying for unemployment claims.


“We are extremely appreciative that Kentucky’s congressional delegation has included funding for the healthcare industry in the recently passed stimulus bill, however, at this time we don’t know if and when that aid will reach our institution,” said Lloyd. “We are hopeful assistance will be available soon, but right now, we have to manage our operations with the resources we currently have available.”


He said St. Claire, like all healthcare institutions, is having to conserve medical supplies and medications during this pandemic and must also conserve financial resources to sustain care to the communities until this crisis abates.


“I am prayerful both the public health crisis and the operational challenges we are experiencing ends soon,” said Lloyd. “In the meantime, I appreciate the tremendous sacrifices our staff are making so we can continue to live our mission and care for our patients in this time of uncertainty.”


According to its website, St. Claire HealthCare has nearly 1,200 staff members, including more than 100 medical providers representing 32 medical specialties.  It includes the largest rural hospital in Northeastern Kentucky with 159 beds, seven family medicine locations, located in five counties, a multi-specialty medical pavilion, an outpatient center, homecare services and operates three retail services, including family medical supply, pharmacy and aesthetics.

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