Prisma Health CEO Mark O’Halla on Friday night announced that the hospital system is furloughing employees as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
“We are taking this management action due to the negative impact that the COVID-19 public health crisis is having on our business operations,” O’Halla said in the statement.
“The number of elective cases, which generate a major portion of our income, has decreased dramatically in the past two weeks,” he said. “Additionally, we are incurring significant new costs associated with the rapidly increasing number of COVID-19 patients who are seeking care from Prisma Health.”
According to an email sent to employees and obtained by the Greenville News, O’Halla said the number of elective cases across the system “has decreased by 77% during the last two weeks, while our physician office appointments have decreased by 40%.”
“These events, coupled with the losses in the financial markets that have occurred over the last few weeks, have dramatically affected our income needed to operate the organization,” he said in the email.
“Additionally, we are incurring significant new costs associated with the rapidly increasing number of COVID-19 patients who are seeking care from Prisma Health. Price increases of more than 500% for personal protective equipment needed for the safety of our workforce is not uncommon during this world-wide pandemic.”
Prisma declined to answer questions about the internal email. Language used in the internal email mirrored what was in the public statement, however it gave greater detail on the situation.
Neither the number of employees affected nor how long the furlough would last was disclosed, except to say that it would “affect a number of Prisma Health team members,” O’Halla said in the public statement.
Employees in administrative, corporate and clinical areas across the entire organization would be impacted, according to the statement.
In the employee email, O’Halla said that while the furlough mostly affects non-patient care positions, it also includes some clinical areas that have seen a significant decline in volume.
Notifications began Friday and will continue into next week.
“These are unprecedented times for our country, for South Carolina, for Prisma Health, and for each one of us,” O’Halla said in the statement. “Our patients and our community, now more than ever, are looking to us to take care of them. This management action, while difficult, is necessary for Prisma Health to meet this need.”
In the email to employees, O’Halla said that the move was “painful, especially for those team members who have been furloughed,” and that affected employees have the opportunity to apply for open positions within the organization, and will be able to apply for unemployment benefits.
“Once we come out of this — and we will — we can get back to business as usual,” O’Halla said in the email. “I hope you stay safe and healthy during these challenging times.”
Prisma Health was formed by the merger of Greenville Health System and Palmetto Health.
Prisma Health-Upstate, with some 15,000 employees, has eight hospitals and dozens of medical practices. Prisma Health-Midlands has four hospitals.
Liv Osby is the health writer at The Greenville News. She can be reached at [email protected], 864-298-4422 or @livgnews.
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