MUSC Health lays off 900 due to COVID-19 financial strain

MUSC Health, an eight-hospital system based in Charleston, S.C., is laying off about 900 employees and reducing pay for salaried workers to help offset financial damage caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Like many other health systems across the U.S., MUSC Health is facing financial pressure from canceling elective procedures and other nonemergent care. As a result, the health system has experienced a significant decline in surgical volumes, inpatient visits and ambulatory encounters.

MUSC Health announced April 6 that it has taken several steps to diminish continued financial damage caused by the pandemic. Those steps include delaying capital expenditures, reducing contractual services, transitioning 80 percent of outpatient visits to telehealth, reducing employee compensation and layoffs.

MUSC Health is laying off about 900 employees, roughly 5 percent of its more than 17,000-person workforce. The layoffs, which the health system described as "temporary," were effective April 7, according to The Post and Courier. The layoffs will not affect frontline healthcare workers, MUSC Health CEO Patrick Cawley, MD, said during an April 6 press conference, according to the report.       

The health system is also reducing pay for full-time salaried workers and its leadership team by 15 percent and 20 percent, respectively. Salary adjustments take effect next week.

"It is also important to emphasize that at this time, frontline health care team members, who have already seen fewer work hours due to COVID-19 response, will not see any additional pay cuts so that MUSC Health can continue to be prepared to face the public health crisis as it unfolds," the health system said April 6.

MUSC Health said it is evaluating state and federal COVID-19 aid proposals, but not all of the proposed benefits apply to MUSC Health. "There are no guarantees on the timing or amount of these funds that MUSC Health may receive," the system said.

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