St. Claire HealthCare (SCH) has responded aggressively and repositioned our clinical operations in the past weeks in response to the COVID-19 public health crisis. Thanks to the tireless work of many, logistics and clinical support are firmly in place to screen, identify, and treat patients with a confirmed or suspected diagnosis of COVID-19 at St. Claire Regional Medical Center as well as SCH’s clinics, and home health and hospice practices.
While preparing for the predicted surge in COVID-19 patients, SCH has also taken action to keep its patients safe. All elective surgeries and screening diagnostic procedures, outpatient therapy services, sleep lab testing, aesthetics procedures, and more have been postponed until further notice. SCH has fully complied with CDC recommendations and mandates from Governor Andy Beshear aimed at reducing the spread of illness. And for our community, it seems to be working.
“We are grateful for the leadership and support of Gov. 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.”
SCH has been forced to take immediate steps to proactively manage the operational impact of COVID-19. Over the past 10 days SCH has experienced a significant decline in patient visits at clinic locations, ambulatory and ancillary locations, and within our medical education operations. Sadly, those numbers are projected to get worse before they get better and no one ones know how long this pandemic will continue.
“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.”
Beginning March 26, SCH will furlough 300 staff who are not directly involved in the delivery of care or participating in the COVID-19 response. This will affect approximately 25% of the existing workforce, with some remaining staff experiencing a reduction in worked hours until this crisis subsides.
“Our intent is for these furloughs to be temporary,” said Lloyd. “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.”
Furloughed 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, SCH 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. St. Claire like all healthcare institutions, is having to conserve medical supplies and medications during this pandemic. We, like all institutions, must also conserve our financial resources to sustain care to our communities until this crisis abates.”
In addition to furloughs and other cost reduction measures, additional operational adjustments are being implemented, and consolidation of services may be necessary as SCH continues to respond to this public health crisis.
“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.”