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MUSC cuts salaries, lays off 900 staff members because of Coronavirus

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During the Coronavirus pandemic, healthy South Carolinians are choosing to avoid any contact with area hospitals.

As a result, the MUSC health system is now forced to lay off 900 staff members. MUSC is centered in Charleston, but operates facilities statewide.

A statement from the hospital group was released to the media on Monday. It reads as follows:

Like many other health care systems across the nation and around the world, the COVID-19 virus has placed tremendous financial pressure on MUSC Health. To help flatten the curve of the COVID-19 pandemic, South Carolina government officials encouraged social distancing strategies and urged all hospitals to halt or significantly reduce surgical procedures and other patient care activities that were not urgent or emergent. Since this time, MUSC Health surgical volumes have been decreased by 75%, inpatient encounters decreased by 30% and ambulatory encounters have been reduced by 70%.

As a result, MUSC Health leadership is taking action to fortify the health system and diminish continued financial damage caused by this public health crisis. Every action is linked to maintaining the short- and long-term capability and viability of the health system. Mitigation strategies to address the COVID-19 crisis include:

Transition 80% of ambulatory/outpatient visits to telehealth
Reduce purchased and contractual services
Reduce supply utilization to match volume and critical needs
Delay capital expenditures
Adjust and realign workforce to sustain essential services with compensation reduction and temporary layoffs

Leadership spent the day beginning discussions with care team members, sharing specific information about workforce adjustments for particular areas. Those discussions will continue throughout the week. Team members will be connected to community resources, such as how to apply for unemployment under current COVID-19 conditions.

There are no easy solutions here. No one wants or likes to make difficult decisions that have negative effects on members of our MUSC Health family. It’s important to understand that these decisions impact everyone. Every member of the MUSC Health team will see some impact to their pay, including a 20% reduction for leaders, a 15% reduction for salaried employees and a reduction in work hours for hourly paid employees who do not provide direct patient care. It is also important to emphasize that at this time, frontline health care team members, who have already seen fewer work hours due to COVID-19 response, will not see any additional pay cuts so that MUSC Health can continue to be prepared to face the public health crisis as it unfolds. Unfortunately, MUSC Health must temporarily lay off approximately 900 health care team members at this time.

MUSC Health is reviewing in detail the state and federal fiscal stimuli proposals that have been publicly announced. There are no guarantees on the timing or amount of these funds that MUSC Health may receive. Some of the rules are not clear and not all of the proposed benefits and funds apply to MUSC Health. We are actively engaged in understanding eligibility, timing for distribution and the amount of funds MUSC Health may receive.

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David Hucks is a 12th generation descendant of the area we now call Myrtle Beach, S.C. David attended Coastal Carolina University and like most of his family, has never left the area. David is the lead journalist at MyrtleBeachSC.com

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