Essentia Health Placing 500 Employees on ‘Special Administrative Leave’

Essentia Coronavirus

DULUTH, Minn. –  Essentia Health announced Monday a plan to reduce non-medical staffing levels by 500 employees next week as the company prepares for a surge of COVID-19 patients in the communities it serves.  The employees affected are not involved in direct patient care, according to hospital officials.

“These plans include redeploying our workforce to best position Essentia Health to care for patients, while responding to the significant financial impacts caused by a reduction in services due to the pandemic,” Essentia said in a news release. “Like other health care organizations around the country, we are projecting a 20-40% decrease in revenue due to pandemic-related declines in patient volumes.”

Essentia has 14,500 employees at its facilities in Minnesota, Wisconsin, North Dakota and Idaho.  Idaho is the only state not affected by the layoffs.

“Essentia is providing support for affected staff members by maintaining health insurance for the near term. These employees can take vacation time or paid time off to lessen the financial impact, as well as unpaid leave. They also can apply for unemployment benefits, which have been expanded and extended by recent legislation. Essentia is offering access to employee-assistance programs like financial counseling, as well as other counseling resources,” the news release said.

“We are collaborating with regional partners to share resources and ensure a coordinated response in anticipation of an expected COVID-19 surge. Predictive modeling is taking place both within Essentia Health and via our partners across the states we serve. This data-informed modeling will improve our preparedness,” said David C. Herman, MD, chief executive officer at Essentia.

Essentia says staffing levels will continually be evaluated and adjusted as needs evolve.

On March 25, St. Luke’s Hospital in Duluth announced the layoffs of seven employees in positions considered non-essential during the pandemic.  The hospital is also temporarily cutting hours for workers in some areas.

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