OSWEGO — Oswego Health will lay off 25 percent of its workforce, which is approximately 300 employees, on April 13 due to the present ban on elective procedures during the COVID-19 crisis and the ensuing $5.4 million monthly loss the hospital has suffered as a result.
The local healthcare provider called the loss “unsustainable” and said it represents “approximately 50 percent of our monthly revenue.”
The layoffs are expected to last 10 to 12 weeks “based on when the influx of COVID-19 patients potentially could move upstate,” according to Senior Director of Communications for Oswego Health Jamie Leszczynski. “But we’re hopeful,” she said, “with proper social distancing that we’ll be able to flatten that curve even further in our community and get back to business as usual here much quicker.
“If Gov. Cuomo lifts the ban on elective surgeries, obviously, we would look to bring more of our operating room staff back and anyone else that’s affiliated with those procedures.”
If a COVID-19 surge hits here, they may be bringing that staff back from New York City.
NY Gov. Andrew Cuomo has asked for medical staff across the country to volunteer to come to New York City in its war against the coronavirus. While there, Leszczynski said, the governor has promised they will be paid, fed, and lodged.
“We certainly are open to the idea and encouraging if any of our staff would like to volunteer and go down to New York City,” Leszczynski said. “I do know that we’ve had a few that have expressed interest and spoken with their directors and managers with regards to that. That is certainly something we are discussing with individuals.”
Both those who have been laid off and those who have not are eligible to volunteer, Leszczynski said. But in the event there were a surge in COVID-19 cases here, “anyone from Oswego Health’s staff who went down to New York City that was part of our surge plan, critical to the care of COVID-19 patients, we would have the ability to recall that individual back to help our patients in our community.”
As things stand right now, “a lot of the positions that are being either fully or partially furloughed are either supporting positions or are positions that currently are not part of the surge plan. Should we receive an abundance of COVID-19 patients in our community that need hospitalization, we are fully prepared. The positions that are being furloughed will not impact our continued care to the community,” Leszczynski said.
Nevertheless, some of those being laid off are medical staff.
“We had to make this decision in order to ensure that we could still care for the community now during this pandemic and much farther beyond that,” Leszczynski said.
Although Oswego Health’s financial picture looks rather dim now, there may be future state aid in that picture that could brighten it up.
“As Gov. Cuomo stated, there will be funds, hopefully, to help relieve some of this burden on the healthcare organizations across the state,” Leszczynski noted. “But, nothing’s been written in stone as far as how much Oswego Health or the other organizations are receiving specifically.”