(NBC News) Medical workers are more essential than ever during the coronavirus pandemic, so why are some being furloughed?
Across the country doctors, nurses and other employees are being told to step back from their jobs as hospitals grapple with mounting financial losses due to the pandemic.
Cape Cod Healthcare would normally be gearing up for summer tourists needing care at this time of year.
Instead, 600 workers, including medical staff, are temporarily off the job there.
Nurse Shannon Sherman worries those furloughs will hurt patients.
“These cuts are for direct care. These are people that are putting their hands on the patients,” she notes.
Cape Cod Healthcare isn’t alone.
According to a recent survey 21-percent of doctors report being furloughed or having their pay cut during the pandemic.
“Frankly, we’re facing one of the biggest financial crisis in our history,” says American Hospital Association president Rick Pollack. “It’s an existential threat for many operations and it may force hospitals to close.”
The American Hospital Association estimates a four month financial impact of more than $200-billion to the country’s hospitals and hospital systems.
That includes the expense of treating COVID-19 patients and halting elective procedures.
“It essentially means there is no revenue coming into facilities, and there are limited ways to make up for the fact that we have limited income,” Pollack says.
While procedures are now resuming in many states, it will take time and careful planning, experts say, as well as additional federal funding to get back up to speed.
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