The News-Review got a chance to ask CHI-Mercy Medical Center Communications Director Kathleen Nickel about some of the issues the hospital has had during the coronavirus pandemic. The following are some of her responses.

Qusesion: How did the requirements connected to COVID-19 affect operations at the hospital?

Answer: Our Oregon Surgery Center (ORSC) was closed and the majority of ORSC staff were furloughed during the closure. In addition, with a smaller hospitalized patient population to care for overall, hospital staff’s hours from all departments and all levels — front-line, clinical and management — were reduced.

Q: Has CHI Mercy had to dip into reserves to offset some of these financial losses?

A: Yes, however, we have received CARES funding to help offset some of the losses, and we have continued managing our expenses, staffing and operations, so it has been minimal.

Q: In April, CHI Mercy announced that it expected to lay off or reduce hours for 350 workers. How many of those workers remained laid off or had hours reduced?

A: Across the hospital, staff were furloughed 100% (working zero hours) and/or had their work hours reduced. The impact of hours exceeded the expected reduction of 350 workers. Leadership throughout Mercy also took a pay cut ranging from 10-20% through June. Executive leadership continues to have a 10% pay reduction through the end of 2020.

Q: Is staffing back up to pre-Covid levels?

A: In general, yes, but not across all departments. Patients who had scheduled surgical or diagnostic cases that were canceled, have for the most part returned for care. Outpatient services, including lab, imaging and therapy are not fully back to pre-Covid levels. Mercy’s emergency department has seen a return of patient visits, however, ER visits are still below pre-Covid levels. Urgent cares in the community have also indicated that they have experienced a similar reduction in patient visits. We attribute this to patients continuing to delay care; and unfortunately, this has resulted in our patients being much sicker when they do come in for care.

Scott Carroll can be reached at scarroll@nrtoday.com or 541-957-4204. Or follow him on Twitter @scottcarroll15.

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