The doctors who own and operate InterMed told employees Thursday that just over one-third of the company’s workforce will be furloughed to reduce the spread of coronavirus and offset the loss of revenue stemming from its decision to stop providing non-essential health care.
InterMed announced Thursday that it stopped providing non-essential services to comply with Gov. Janet Mill’s directive, one of several she issued to reduce the spread of the virus. The health care practice temporarily closed its audiology and physical therapy departments as well as its surgery center.
InterMed said it will continue to treat patients who may have contracted the virus or those who have a qualifying health condition such as blood pressure management, diabetes, rashes or behavioral health issues through a new telehealth feature that allows patients and doctors to interact remotely. Patients who must be seen in person may continue to do so, but only after first consulting a physician.
“InterMed is responding to the COVID-19 pandemic by making some changes to ensure you safely receive the care you need when you need it,” InterMed’s Chief Medical Officer Dan Loiselle said in an email to patients Thursday evening. “We want to assure you that we are open and available to meet your healthcare needs 7 days a week.”
John Lamb, InterMed’s spokesman, confirmed in a telephone interview late Thursday that just over one-third of the roughly 850 InterMed employees will be furloughed. Affected employees were advised to file for unemployment benefits during staff meetings earlier in the day at InterMed locations in Portland, South Portland and Yarmouth.
Lamb said the furloughs became necessary because of the halt in non-essential services and because InterMed has seen a decline in patients visits – which have both reduced revenues. Lamb said more people are staying at home because of the outbreak.
“We had to reduce the number of employees coming to work every day and sadly that meant furloughing staff at almost every level of the business,” Lamb said. “Our plan is to bring these employees back as soon as we feel it is safe.”
He said employees from nearly every department, including nurse practitioners, will be furloughed. Lamb said about 70 doctors, who own and operate InterMed, will continue working, but will not be paid. InterMed CEO Dan McCormack said he would also not be paid during the outbreak.
Lamb said doctors personally informed employees about the furloughs.
“It was (the doctors’) decision and they stepped up,” Lamb said.
Doctors will focus on three objectives during the outbreak: treating COVID-19 patients, providing telehealth conferences with patients, and offering essential health services, Lamb said.
InterMed doctors are recommending that patients who suspect they have contracted the virus make a telehealth appointment first. The doctors said they will be prepared for an in-person office visit if they feel it is warranted, but have set up a dedicated building away from other locations to screen potential COVID-19 or influenza patients.
InterMed also announced Thursday that it will consolidate two of its practice locations beginning next week. Pediatrics will be consolidated on the 10th floor at 84 Marginal Way in Portland, and Family Medicine will be consolidated at its Yarmouth offices, at 259 Main St.
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