Pandemic prompts cuts at UVM Health Network

Published: May. 1, 2020 at 11:53 AM EDT
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The University of Vermont Health Network has lost millions of dollars due to the pandemic and they're now taking action to help get them out of the red. Our Dom Amato spoke with the CEO about what their plan is.

The entire UVM Health Network is looking at an estimated $152 million in losses this fiscal year. Officials say they now have to make tough decisions that impact hundreds of workers.

"This pandemic is catastrophic and unprecedented," said Dr. John Brumsted, the president and CEO of the UVM Health Network.

Leaders in the UVM Health Network, which spans two states and employs more than 14,000 health care professionals, are taking action now to prevent a longterm financial impact.

"We will get through this, we will craft a pathway forward," Brumsted said.

The network entered the pandemic with financial challenges and millions more was spent on a number of initiatives to support patients and staffers during the outbreak. Added expenses from April are estimated at more than $20 million.

In March, the network saw about half as many patients as usual, in part, leading to a loss of about $44 million.

"The increased expense related to getting ready for COVID and about a 50% reduction in revenue-- we have to do some things quickly," Brumsted said.

That includes pay cuts for about 300 leaders across the network, a reduction in employer benefit contributions, a freeze on most spending and hiring, as well as reducing other spending.

This is expected to save the network $25 million.

"The health care system is important to us. We need to make sure that we're able to protect Vermonters," said Gov. Phil Scott, R-Vermont.

The governor expects other hospitals in the state to also be facing a budget shortfall. The state has yet to set aside any federal relief money for health care providers.

Brumsted says it's just one of many unknowns to come.

"It's a tough situation," he said. "But we're totally committed to get through this and to be there strong as ever to meet the needs of our community."

The first wave of nearly $38 million has cleared the network's bank account but that doesn't even cover the revenue loss from March. They should know the financial hit they took last month in the next few weeks.

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