KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) – Children’s Mercy Hospital announced moves, including employee furloughs and executive pay cuts, that hospital officials say they hope will address the fiscal losses due to COVID-19.

The hospital said that 575 employees will be furloughed for up to 60 days, beginning Sunday, April 26. Additionally, the hospital’s senior leadership are taking reductions of 20 percent for vice presidents and 30 percent for the CEO.

Hospital officials have already eliminated more than 200 vacant job openings, suspended spending on capital projects and are reviewing all discretionary spending. They are also reaching out to ask for support from city, county, state and federal leaders.

More than 2,500 employees were already working from home, with 350 more employees at home not working or working reduced hours. Another 150 employees had roles transitioned to handle tasks like employee COVID-19 screening.

The current pandemic and the stay-home orders that have been issued to combat the spread of illness have had a chilling effect on the hospital, officials said. Surgeries and outpatient visits down by more that 70 percent, urgent care cases down 67 percent, emergency cases down 57 percent and admissions down 32 percent.

During all of these drops, the hospital has only had four patients with coronavirus.

“COVID-19 is having a crushing, negative impact on patient care access, our employees and our financial performance. In order to keep our community safe and to prepare to care for COVID-19 patients, last month we suspended elective procedures and limited outpatient clinic visits,” president and CEO Paul Kempinski said. “The number of children impacted by COVID-19, thankfully, has been extremely low compared to the adult population.”

The hospital reports that the drop in patient care volumes has caused a decline in revenue of approximately $1 million per day. It also lost a major fundraising effort with the announcement of the cancellation of the annual Big Slick charity event.

The issue is compounded by the fact that pediatric hospitals are not part of the $30 billion federal stimulus package designed for hospitals and health care providers, though Kempinski said he is hopeful that will change under future stimulus efforts.

Kempinski explained that furloughing employees allows them to file for unemployment benefits and noted that the hospital will continue to pay premiums for medical and dental coverage. The furloughed employees will also be able to use the hospital’s health and wellness offerings, like the employee wellness center and pharmacy.

“We are hopeful that once the pandemic abates and the stay-at-home orders are lifted, we will be able to ramp back up to normal activity and continue caring for the patients and families of our region,” Kempinski added.

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