Furloughs hit UR medical center

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The University of Rochester Medical Center is furloughing a substantial portion of its work force, temporarily idling nearly 20 percent of its staff of 17,885.

URMC officials cite a $500 million hole in the medical center’s budget as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to stretch hospital resources while reducing revenues. A $50 million cut in expenses, partially achieved by cutting top earners’ compensation, will not enough to offset revenue losses of $130 million a month, official say. 

Furloughs cut across staff levels, affecting some care providers as well as administrative and support staff. Strong Memorial Hospital will see 1,517 of its 11,279-employee staff sent home. URMC’s Medical Faculty Group is furloughing 39 percent of its 1,392-employee staff, a total of 546 workers. Some workers are to be partially furloughed with reduced work schedules. 

Furloughed workers will continue to receive health-insurance benefits and could be eligible to collect unemployment insurance, which under enhanced benefits authorized by the federal government’s recently passed Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act could see some take home as much or more than their regular salaries. 

If URMC finances improve, the medical center plans to call idled employees back to work. 

“As the number of patients receiving clinical care grows, research labs that suspended operations reopen, and education programs resume, employees needed to support these operations will be called back,” the medical center notes in a statement released Friday

URMC did not predict how soon those developments might happen. 

The medical center’s work force accounts for more than half of the university’s employees. UR’s 31,000-worker payroll makes it the area’s largest employer. In mid-April, the university announced a hiring freeze and furloughs for some staff.

Will Astor is Rochester Beacon senior writer. All coronavirus articles are collected here.

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