Frontline Medical Workers See Severe Pay Cuts During COVID-19 Crisis

The St. Clair Hospital in Pitsburg is currently going through troubling times as before the COVID-19 crisis it would have 40 to 60 surgeries scheduled per day, while now they have only about 5 to 15, according to Business Insider.

At the moment, St. Clair is focusing on quicker procedures, such as performing appendectomies or repairing broken bones. In case of an emergency, the number of surgeries could increase but it has been dropping nevertheless.

“There are probably about seven or eight nurses on, and half the time you don’t have anything to do,” a nurse revealed. “It’s like a waiting game to just clock out.”

However, the hospital’s nurses do not want to end their shifts early, knowing that their work hours have been reduced already, hitting their finances hard, according to the nurse. Hospitals in parts of the United States where COVID-19 has hit the hardest are being overwhelmed by infected people. The rest, on the other hand, are much less busy.

Those who spoke out about the situation have asked for their identifies to remain private due to fears of losing their jobs.

Doctor visits have now been moved online, and due to people having to stay inside following coronavirus guidelines, they are far less likely to get physically injured.

People are calling to reschedule unurgent surgeries for later dates, while hospitals are moving back appointments as requested by officials.

All this is causing hospitals and medical workers alike to lose large amounts of money. Hospitals are cutting wages all across the United States in addition to laying off employees, reassigning workers to other departments, or slashing work hours. Data from last month released by the Labor Department shows some of the largest declines of employment occurred in outpatient settings, while generally hospital employment was flat.

Some medical workers at St. Clair have been put on an every-second-week type of schedule, slashing their wages. The nurse interviewed has begun working some shifts at another place because otherwise she would have to get by on just half a salary. Before the crisis, she had been planning to work extra hours in order to pay off student loans.

“Going to work every day is rough,” the nurse said. “You never know what you’re going to walk into.”

Meanwhile, medical employees are preparing themselves for an extreme increase in COVID-19 patients. St. Clair did not wish to answer questions about the situation, but papers written by hospital leadership, which Business Insider has gotten a hold of, show the hospital gave its workers an extra week of paid leave.

It is, in addition, also letting employees who use their paid time off incur a negative balance for up to one week, and provides workers in financial leadership positions with a fund.

The papers do not go into detail about the number of hours that have been cut from employees.

“Some employees will be redeployed to meet other critical needs and some, unfortunately, will be flexed down,” St Clair senior vice president Andrea Kalina said in a March 25 memo.

It is assumed that hospitals such as St. Clair are to expect support from the government any time soon.

Recently, Congress passed a $2 trillion COVID-19 relief package named the CARES Act, and while it will give $100 billion to hospitals, those promises have not been able to stop the severe cuts in jobs.

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