CHI St. Vincent Cuts Hours, Furloughs Workers

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CHI St. Vincent on Friday became the latest health care provider to furlough employees and implement a hiring freeze because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The system said in a statement that it “has experienced an unprecedented reduction in demand for many traditional healthcare services,” among them elective surgeries and non-urgent procedures that have been postponed.

The health system did not say how many workers were affected by the furloughs. Spokesman Joshua Cook said in an email to Arkansas Business that “most furloughs are hour reductions vs. 100% furloughs of an employee’s hours.”

CHI St. Vincent said that while it’s working with federal and state agencies to access relief funds, the financial challenge required it to cut expenses in the short term. Select departments will temporarily close and clinic hours as well and non-clinical hours will be reduced. 

“These have been difficult decisions, but necessary steps as we continue to provide quality, compassionate care for our patients, maintain a work environment that minimizes possible exposure for our caregivers and sustains our healing ministry beyond the COVID-19 pandemic,” the health system said in a statement.

CHI St. Vincent joins other Arkansas hospitals who have furloughed employees in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak. Baxter Regional Medical Center of Mountain Home announced earlier this week that it had furloughed 105 employees.

Last week, Baptist Health of Little Rock announced that it would furlough an undisclosed number of employees; North Arkansas Regional Medical Center of Harrison said it would furlough 35 employees; and Arkansas Heart Hospital told KARK-TV, Channel 4, it would also furlough workers.

CHI St. Vincent has hospitals and clinics throughout Arkansas, including Little Rock, Hot Springs and Sherwood. It is part of CommonSpirit Health of Chicago, which has operations in 21 states.

CHI St. Vincent Infirmary in Little Rock is the state’s fifth largest hospital by revenue, according to Arkansas Business’ most recent list published Sept. 30. The 615-bed facility reported $393.8 million in net patient revenue and 3,218 employees.