Petition calls for greater transparency about MU Health Care layoffs

petition is calling on Columbia, Mo.-based MU Health Care to provide greater transparency to community members in staffing decisions and a moratorium on layoffs. 

As of the morning of June 24, 270 people had signed the petition at change.org., which was started by a man identified as Jeff S.

Jeff S. started the petition after talking with a friend who had been laid off, according to the Columbia Daily Tribune. Jeff S. told the newspaper he did not disclose his last name because he is associated with the University of Missouri but is acting as a community member in starting the petition. MU Health Care is an arm of the publicly funded university. 

"To me, healthcare systems are a public health issue," he said in his interview. "From their perspective, they [MU Health Care] are looking at this like a business, but for the rest of us, we need to have reliable healthcare in place, especially during a pandemic."

On May 1, the University of Missouri reported 49 layoffs, including 32 layoffs in MU Health Care management, administration, hospitals and clinics, in response to the financial fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The petition contends MU Health Care "simultaneously laid off 32 of its employees, without any explanation to the community regarding the occupational categories of those laid off or how it would affect care."

The petition also asks MU Health Care to disclose the occupational categories and units of laid-off employees; plans in place before the pandemic for budget shortfalls in times of crisis; voluntary pay cuts by executives as a percentage of total compensation for the year; and plans to avoid more layoffs and boost staffing.

MU Health Care said the cuts were necessary when revenue fell from canceled clinic visits and procedures and expenses related to COVID-19, according to the Tribune.

"We announced some workforce actions earlier this summer that we have taken to address head on the financial challenges facing our academic health system in order to ensure our long-term strength and sustainability," spokesperson Jesslyn Chew wrote in an email to the newspaper

She said MU Health Care has cut 63 of more than 6,000 jobs systemwide and is not disclosing the names of affected departments to protect workers' privacy.

"We do not know what the future holds, but we acted decisively early on and are optimistic about the stability of our clinical staffing going forward as we gradually emerge from our urgent COVID-19 response into a sustainable path forward." Ms. Chew wrote in her email to the Tribune. "We always staff to workload, which means we match patient volumes with the appropriate number of staff members to keep patient-to-staff ratios safe. As volumes are increasing and stabilizing, we are recruiting more nurses to help meet our patients' needs."

Read the full Tribune report here

 

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