Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare announces plans to furlough and reduce pay during pandemic

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare announced measures they plan to take to address financial challenges created by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This public health crisis has created a ripple effect across all segments of our economy in ways most of us have never seen,” said Michael Ugwueke, Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare CEO.

“Methodist, like other health care systems in the Mid-South and around the country, has seen a significant decline in revenues as a result of a more than 40 percent decline inpatient volumes related to the closure of nonessential services and the mandated cancellation of non-emergency procedures to prepare for COVID patients,” said Ugwueke.

So the employees are not impacted too much during this time, officials have taken a number of steps to reduce its expenses that includes lowering senior executive pay by 20 percent and making staffing adjustments through a combination of reduced work hours, use of PTO, and voluntary and involuntary furloughs.

MLH said they plan to cover all health plan premiums for any associate who is out on furlough and the changes will not affect the safety and quality of patient care.

“We recognize the sacrifice everyone is making as we navigate this uncharted territory,” Ugwueke said. “Our Associates are the lifeline of this organization. As we make adjustments to deal with our reduced volume levels and workload, we are committed to fairness, consistency and shared sacrifice.”

Some of the other changes that have been made are:

  • Reassigning associates to other departments, facilities or roles
  • Reduced overtime and agency staffing and eliminated open positions where possible.

The actions are ongoing, but as the pandemic has extended from weeks to months, MLH leaders finally had to consider making adjustments that would affect work schedules more broadly across the organization.

“Today’s economic realities MLH is facing require additional steps beyond what we are already doing," Ugwueke said. “We made these decisions only after a great deal of thought, careful consideration of options and thorough deliberation.”

All the measures are temporary.

Officials will continue to monitor the situation.