Chicago healthcare workers see reduced pay, benefits in fallout from COVID-19

Healthcare workers in the Chicago area are seeing their benefits and pay reduced as hospitals grapple with the financial challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, CBS 2 reports.

The American Hospital Association estimates U.S. hospitals and health systems will lose $202.6 billion over a four-month period from March 1 to June 30, or $50.7 billion on average per month. In Illinois, hospitals are losing more than $1.4 billion a month due to the COVID-19 crisis, according to Danny Chun with the Illinois Health and Hospital Association.

Therefore, many hospitals have had to prioritize cost reduction, including layoffs and furloughs, to help offset money lost due to canceled elective procedures and expenses of preparing for COVID-19 patients. Hospitals are taking other measures as well, including pay cuts for executives, clinicians and other staff.

Here is how three hospitals and health systems in the Chicago area are responding, according to CBS 2:

1. Chicago-based Northwestern Medicine has reduced vacation time, paused 401(k) matches and put raises on hold for staff. The health system has also reduced senior management compensation by up to 20 percent. 

2. Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital in Chicago implemented unpaid furloughs as well as senior leadership pay cuts. It also eliminated merit raises, implemented a hiring freeze and reduced expenses such as travel, consultants and capital projects.

3. Jim Skogsbergh, the CEO of Milwaukee and Downers Grove, Ill.-based Advocate Aurora Health, took a 50 percent salary cut, while other senior executives from the health system reduced their salaries by 20 percent. Advocate Aurora Health also paused some capital construction projects and furloughed some workers. The health system said those who are furloughed will see their pay cut incrementally over the next several pay periods, and they may use paid time off to supplement their pay. This includes an opportunity to use a new benefit that allows them to borrow against future PTO accruals. Additionally, Advocate Aurora has expanded offerings including child care stipends, lodging accommodations, special pandemic pay, bonuses for eligible employees and mental health and wellness resources. 

Read more about hospitals in the Chicago area here.


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