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North Arkansas Regional Medical Center of Harrison will furlough about 35 workers to cut expenses as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has put significant stress on healthcare delivery across the
country and in hospitals across the state of Arkansas, forcing us to take action,” NARMC President and CEO Vince Leist said Friday in a news release. “With increased cost of operation due to the pandemic and the loss of our elective revenue stream, we have no choice but to make changes in our organization.”
NARMC has about 800 workers and those furloughed will come from support departments and not affect direct patient care, the news release said.
NARMC’s announcement came less than a week after Baptist Health of Little Rock said it will furlough workers as a result of the pandemic, which caused patients to cancel procedures and testing, creating “a serious financial strain” on the state’s largest health care system.
NARMC, like other rural hospitals, receives most of its profits from elective services such as surgery, lab and imaging.
But on March 18, the U.S. Surgeon General and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services said all elective procedures in hospitals were to be postponed to slow the spread of COVID-19 and conserve personal protective equipment for health care workers who care for infected patients.
“This action effectively eliminated the revenue stream that pays the bills,” NARMC said. “Each week, cash reserves are used to support the organization’s needs.”
Some employees have reduced their hours or taken vacation days, but the moves to cut expenses weren’t enough.
“While we anticipate assistance from state and federal sources, we must make decisions on the information we have,” Leist said. “NARMC will continue to monitor the impact COVID-19 has on the healthcare system and will make changes when necessary to ensure the community has access to quality care for years to come.”