Avoiding furloughs, layoffs aided UMass Memorial's financial recovery, CEO says

Eric Dickson, MD, president and CEO of Worcester, Mass.-based UMass Memorial Health Care, committed to no layoffs or furloughs despite financial losses from the COVID-19 pandemic, and he is now saying the decision significantly helped the system's financial recovery, according to MassLive

In early May, Dr. Dickson said that UMass Memorial was staring at a loss of $28 million and bracing for the "worst year in history."

The losses were attributed to a decline in patient volume from the state's elective procedure ban. 

While the system could have saved $5 million to $10 million with layoffs and furloughs, Dr. Dickson said he wanted to stand by his people and use them to help the system recover financially.

Dr. Dickson said he told workers when the elective procedure ban was lifted, they needed to help get patients back into the hospital for screenings and procedures, which he said has now helped bridge the financial gap, according to MassLive.

"When we started to bring patients back into the clinics, I said in a town hall 'we stood by our people through all of this, we didn't do some of the things that almost every other healthcare system did, and now what we need is for you to get every patient in that needs to be seen and to do it in a way that keeps those patients and our caregivers safe,' and they’ve done a remarkable job," Dr. Dickson told MassLive.

As of last week, UMass Memorial is at about 96 percent of pre-coronavirus revenue levels, according to the report.

"I believe it has a lot to do with standing by our people and not doing the furloughs and the layoffs," Dr. Dickson said.

In addition to patient volume returning, the hospital system has also received millions in federal funding to help offset losses. 

"Prior to the start of the pandemic, our system was at break-even financially," said Sergio Melgar, CFO of UMass Memorial Health Care. "Since that time, the funding from state and federal agencies have gone a long way to fill the gap from lost patient revenue. Consequently, we now have a chance — if patient volume returns to normal — to return to break-even."


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