JONESBORO, Ark. (KAIT) - Faced with a reduction in patient visits and the cessation of elective procedures and surgeries, St. Bernards announced Tuesday it was taking numerous cost-saving measures, including furloughs.
In a statement to Region 8 News, Chris Barber, president and CEO of St. Bernards Healthcare, stated the “senior leadership made a collective decision to implement as many expense-reduction measures as possible while protecting the integrity and safety of our healthcare system.”
Among those temporary measures, Barber said, were management pay reductions, reduced hours and “even more difficult, furloughs.”
Barber stated that patient volume at St. Bernards Medical Center and its outlying clinics had experienced a substantial decline.
“Specifically, our health system overall has seen declines ranging from 35 to 70 percent,” Barber said. “Finally, we have additional COVID-19 demands to best equip our healthcare workers for a potential surge.”
SBH did not say just how many workers would be furloughed.
“We don’t have an answer on specific numbers because the ongoing COVID-19 situation remains fluid," said Mitchell Nail, media relations manager for SBH. "Many of our team members are taking a voluntary furlough, while others are voluntarily reducing their hourly workload or pay.”
Nail added that St. Bernards’ human resources team was working closely with them to make sure they receive every benefit possible.
“We consider any individual facing these scenarios a valuable St. Bernards team member," Barber said. "Our decision has nothing to do with job performance or work importance, and we will assist all our team members any way we can.”
Nail added that the decision will affect the entire healthcare system, not just the medical center.
NEA Baptist Health System has not announced furloughs. The director of marketing told Talk Business & Politics: “At this time, we have no plans to furlough employees.”