Detroit Medical Center to furlough 480 employees during coronavirus crisis

Responding to the coronavirus also means canceling more profitable procedures. Detroit Medical Center is the latest to make deep cuts to balance its budget.

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Struggling against budget woes in the center of Michigan’s coronavirus crisis, Detroit Medical Center announced Wednesday it  will furlough 480 employees.

In a written statement, CEO Audrey Gregory said the employees of the eight-hospital system  “remain on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic,” but she noted that the state’s stay-at-home orders have forced some operations to be “temporarily closed or ramped down.”

Furloughs will not affect patient care, Gregory said: “We remain appropriately staffed to provide our full support to treat patients in greater Detroit.​”

DMC did not immediately respond to questions about details of the furloughs, including precisely what positions would be furloughed. 

The furloughs appear to be indefinite.

“Our expectation is that we can return impacted staff to service once we navigate through this unprecedented time and our core business gets back to normal,” Gregory said.

DMC is the latest health system facing budget challenges in the face of state restrictions to control the spread of COVID-19. Those restrictions ban elective or non-emergency procedures — the more profitable procedures on which hospitals rely to balance their bottom lines — so hospitals can have enough room and resources to handle a surge in COVID-19 patients. The cancellations also keep people without COVID-19 infections from possibly being exposed to the virus at hospitals also treating COVID-19 patients.

Audrey Gregory

DMC’s CEO Audrey Gregory said the system remains “appropriately staffed” to care for COVID-19 patients.

On Tuesday, Beaumont Health confirmed it would sideline one of its eight hospitals. Beaumont Hospital, Wayne, is now on standby “as a reserve COVID-19 hospital” and Beaumont staff is being shifted to other places in the health system while the hospital in Wayne is put on a temporary pause, said Beaumont spokesman Mark Geary.

Leaders at other hospitals, including Grand Blanc-based McLaren Health Care and Livonia-based Trinity Health and several smaller hospitals, also have told Bridge and the Detroit Free Press that they are struggling financially in the face of dramatically reshaped medical care.

Stories from the front  

Bridge Magazine, Detroit Free Press and Michigan Radio are teaming up to report on Michigan hospitals during the coronavirus pandemic. We will be sharing accounts of the challenges doctors, nurses and other hospital personnel face as they work to treat patients and save lives. If you work in a Michigan hospital, we would love to hear from you. You can contact reporters Robin Erb at Bridge, Kristen Jordan Shamus at the Free Press and Kate Wells at Michigan Radio.

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John Gorentz
Thu, 04/16/2020 - 3:31pm

The problem with Gov. Whitmer and much of the public health technocracy is that they are satisfied with a narrow-minded approach that thinks only in terms of reducing the effects of this disease. Well, it's understandable that public health people would focus on that, because that's their job. It's their area of expertise. But it's a Governor's job to balance those concerns with other things, such as the wellbeing of our society and economy. She seems to have lost sight of that, or at least failed to demonstrate any concern or coherent plan to mitigate the threat of arbitrary government to lives of freedom and dignity.

Richard Young
Fri, 04/17/2020 - 9:12am

It is not "arbitrary" government. The order is designed to protect the health and safety of all those in Michigan. The "protesters" who apparently have their own political agenda and have violated that policy will likely take the virus back all over Michigan.