Wisconsin system lays off furloughed staff

Marshfield (Wis.) Clinic Health System has informed furloughed employees that their employment will end in early May, a spokesperson for the health system confirmed to Becker's.

The system furloughed about 3% of its workforce in January to help hit its financial turnaround goals. Affected positions were mostly in non-patient-seeing departments, including leadership roles.

When the furloughs were announced, Marshfield said that its service and labor resources account for more than 50% of the system's overall operating costs. ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Marshfield is an 11-hospital system with more than 12,000 employees serving Wisconsin and Michigan's Upper Peninsula.

"We are committed to supporting affected employees during this transition period, assisting them with a severance package and ensuring they have access to any available resources and assistance, including encouraging them to review other opportunities within the health system in areas with specific needs," a spokesperson for the system said in a statement shared with Becker's.

Since January, more than 60 furloughed employees pursued and were offered alternative employment opportunities at Marshfield Clinic, and dozens more opted to take roles outside the organization, according to the health system.

Marshfield Clinic and Duluth, Minn.-based Essentia Health called off their proposed plan to merge into a 25-hospital system shortly before the furloughs were announced in January. 

Last month, S&P Global downgraded Marshfield Clinic's credit rating from "BBB+" to "BBB" due to ongoing operational challenges and "a balance sheet with less flexibility due to declines in net assets as well as moderately higher debt levels due to issuances needed to maintain liquidity."

The rating agency said Marshfield Clinic is making strides in performance improvement initiatives and optimizing various IT systems, but it is still in transition as it actively searches for a partner and as it looks to "stabilize the organization after the build-out of the inpatient hospital expansions of the last several years."

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