Tidelands Health adjusting operations in response to COVID-19 impact
Tidelands Health is implementing operational adjustments as the not-for-profit health system responds to an unprecedented decline in patient volumes amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The organization is grappling with volume declines of 50 percent or more at the health system’s 60-plus locations. Health systems across the region, state and nation are adjusting workflows and staffing levels to best meet current community needs and prepare for the expected COVID-19 surge.
“The postponement of elective procedures and government requirements limiting community movement have impacted every area of our health system,” said Bruce Bailey, president and CEO. “Inpatient admissions, emergency department visits, outpatient procedures, physician office visits – many have seen declines of 50 percent or more since the beginning of March.
“It is not sustainable to continue operating our health system today in the same way we did when we had twice as many patients. Taking action now will preserve our health system’s ability to continue caring for our community – both during the expected COVID-19 surge in the coming weeks and for the long term.”
Tidelands Health leaders are reconfiguring workflows and assessing staffing needs relative to current volumes and predicted surge volumes. In areas where there is excess staffing, team members will either be furloughed or placed on low census.
In addition, the following actions are being implemented:
- Members of the senior administration team will receive a 20 percent reduction in base pay rate for the period beginning April 20 and continuing through at least Aug.9.
- All salaried employee partners will receive a 10 percent reduction in base pay rate for the period beginning April 20 and continuing through at least Aug.9.
- Hourly employee partners will have no change in base pay rate.
- Tidelands Health will suspend retirement contributions until at least Aug. 9.
- There will be no other changes to benefits, including health insurance and the accrual of paid time off.
- Capital spending will be restricted to emergency purchases.
The Tidelands Health human resources department will provide support and assistance for employee partners who are furloughed or placed on low-census status. Many impacted employee partners will qualify for expanded unemployment benefits under the federal government’s newly enacted CARES Act.
“This is not a path any of us would have chosen for our health system,” Bailey said. “But we must do what is required to protect our organization’s future. Our community’s health depends on a healthy Tidelands Health. The steps we are taking are absolutely necessary as we continue to fulfill our commitment to the patients we serve.”