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Saint Alphonsus announces pay cuts, furloughs for some hospital employees

Saint Alphonsus is reassigning some staff, reducing salaries of top-level employees, and mandating others take unpaid leave.

BOISE, Idaho — Employees at Saint Alphonsus are facing down pay cuts and unpaid furloughs as the coronavirus pandemic continues to eat into profits, the hospital system announced in a letter to staff Wednesday.

"These are not 'normal times,' and the sustained loss of volume and increased costs associated with COVID-19 preparedness is outpacing our revenue," President and CEO Odette Bolano wrote in the letter. "Our revenues in the inpatient and outpatient settings have declined anywhere from 50-80%. While the operational changes we've made have been necessary and vital for the safety of our patients, colleagues, and communities, they have also resulted in significant unexpected costs which will continue for the duration of the pandemic." 

As a result, Saint Alphonsus is reassigning some staff, reducing salaries of top-level employees, and mandating others take unpaid leave. 

The pay cuts will apply only to senior leaders - vice presidents and above - and go into effect next week. Those employees are taking 15 to 25 percent pay reductions, except for Trinity Health President and CEO Mike Slubowski, who is taking a 50 percent pay cut.

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Employees whose workload has "significantly declined" as a result of the hospital system's shifted focus onto coronavirus will be furloughed. 

The furloughs will be temporary, Bolano said, but could last anywhere from one to thirteen pay periods. The employees who are on furlough will retain their benefits, but will not be paid. They will be allowed to use their paid time off during the furlough, and may be eligible for unemployment, according to the hospital.

Saint Alphonsus has not said which employees or how many will be furloughed. Hospital spokesman Mark Snider told KTVB that Saint Alphonsus is still working to figure out which staff members will be moved to other roles and which will be furloughed. 

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Some of those placed on unpaid leave may be called back to work if they are needed, he added.

"We know we are not alone in this challenge. Across the nation, many health systems are taking similar actions," Bolano wrote. "However, I also know this situation, while temporary for the duration of the pandemic, will present a hardship for colleagues impacted."

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In addition to the furloughs and pay cuts, the hospital system is reducing some workers to part-time status, suspending all non-essential work to focus on the coronavirus, and pausing investments in growth projects or non-clinical areas. 

"Only capital investments needed for COVID-19 response are being made; that planning process continues," Snider wrote in an email. "We will be focusing our resources on acquiring PPE to protect caregivers and patients; increasing staffing, beds and ventilators in our hospitals; expanding telehealth visits, and expanding our lab's testing capabilities and speed up turnaround time for test results."

Saint Alphonsus is also expanding its telemedicine offerings, so patients do not have to physically come into the hospital to see a doctor, and postponing elective surgeries, procedures, diagnostic tests and other elective care.

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"I ask for your compassion, grace and understanding during this difficult time," Bolano wrote. "I am confident that this will pass, and we will continue to be the strong committed mission driven organization that we have always been."

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