Furloughs affecting Missouri hospitals, health systems update

This spring dozens of hospitals and health systems across the U.S. were faced with unanticipated costs, leading several to announce furloughs among other cost-reduction strategies, three of which are located in Missouri including one in Kansas City, Mo.

Hospitals and healthcare systems were no exception to the list of industries facing financial hardship this spring due to COVID-19.

Within Missouri, at least three different hospitals announced furloughs as part of their cost-reduction strategy, including local Children’s Mercy in Kansas City, Mo., Freeman Health System further South in Joplin and a St. Luke’s Hospital location on the far east of the state in Chesterfield, Mo.

Beginning in late April, Children’s Mercy furloughed 575 employees. These cuts were made to help offset fiscal losses attributed to the pandemic, according to hospital officials.

This summer, the hospital released a letter saying all but 60 of the furloughed employees have returned, including that for those eligible, severance packages will be made available.

Freeman Health System in Joplin implemented a slightly different method for furloughs, issuing a voluntary furlough program for staff members in the spring.

As of the first week of September, the hospital reported that all of the employees who volunteered to take furloughs have returned to work.

Similarly, St. Luke’s Hospital in Chesterfield, near St. Louis, offered a voluntary furlough program in May. Around 300 employees accepted the offer and received paid benefits, according to the hospital at the beginning of September.