Emergency room doctors at Beaumont Health, Michigan's largest hospital system, will see smaller paychecks after volunteering to have their hours reduced amid the pandemic. Their ER counterparts in pediatrics have agreed to take temporary leaves of absences, Detroit Free Press has learned.
The cuts and leaves are a response to the millions of dollars in losses that Beaumont — along with other hospital systems — has sustained in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis that has led to "substantial" drops in overall emergency visits and elimination of services like elective surgeries.
Beaumont did not provide a number as to exactly how many ER doctors will be affected, but said the safety of emergency patients will not be compromised and that their needs will continue to be met.
"Like other health systems, COVID-19 has forced us to consider staffing changes to our emergency centers because the number of patients seeking emergency care has dramatically declined. That said, at no time will there be an absence of qualified emergency medicine care for our pediatric patients," Beaumont officials said in a letter, obtained by the Free Press, that was sent Monday to all pediatric staff.
The letter added: "Patients with non-COVID-19-related medical emergencies and trauma including heart attacks, stroke, seizures and injuries should not hesitate to seek emergency medical attention at any of our Beaumont Health emergency centers."
In an email to the Free Press, Beaumont spokesperson Mark Geary said that "some of our regular [emergency] doctors are voluntarily reducing hours because we are seeing a much smaller number of patients" and that some pediatric ER physicians have agreed to take a temporary leave of absence.
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This latest measure comes one week after Beaumont announced that it was laying off 2,475 workers and will permanently cut about 450 positions because of the financial effects of the pandemic.
Most of the temporary layoffs involved hospital administrative staff and others who are not directly caring for patients with or without COVID-19. Of the 450 permanent job cuts, most are corporate staff or serving administrative roles.
Beaumont is not alone as multiple hospitals are cutting staff due to the pandemic.
Detroit Medical Center announced last week that it will furlough 480 employees, while the McLaren Medical Group said it will cut the hours of many of its 500 doctors, physician assistants, nurse practitioners and nurse midwives.
Henry Ford Health System also announced deep staff cuts last week: About 2,800 employees are being temporarily furloughed across the Detroit-based, six-hospital system, which saw a $43 million loss in operating income in March. Those losses came after Henry Ford, like other health systems, postponed or cancelled non-emergency services and procedures.