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COVID-19

News >  Pacific NW

UW Medicine to furlough about 4,000 workers

UPDATED: Mon., May 25, 2020

In this May 8, 2020, file photo, respiratory therapist Neeru Kaur, right, and other medical staff work on a patient in the COVID-19 Intensive Care Unit at Harborview Medical Center, which is part of Seattle-area health care system UW Medicine, in Seattle. The number of deaths in Washington because of the coronavirus has reached 1,000, the Washington State Department of Health reported Saturday, May 16, 2020. The agency added eight more deaths and listed the total number of confirmed cases at 18,288. (Elaine Thompson / Associated Press)
In this May 8, 2020, file photo, respiratory therapist Neeru Kaur, right, and other medical staff work on a patient in the COVID-19 Intensive Care Unit at Harborview Medical Center, which is part of Seattle-area health care system UW Medicine, in Seattle. The number of deaths in Washington because of the coronavirus has reached 1,000, the Washington State Department of Health reported Saturday, May 16, 2020. The agency added eight more deaths and listed the total number of confirmed cases at 18,288. (Elaine Thompson / Associated Press)
Associated Press

SEATTLE – UW Medicine announced furloughs of about 4,000 members of its unionized workforce in spite of the health care system’s position at the forefront of COVID-19 response efforts locally and globally.

KOMO-TV reported the decision comes a week after the health care system announced that it was furloughing 1,500 professional staff and classified non-union staff to help address the financial challenges caused by COVID-19.

In a statement, officials said it was necessary to address a $500 million financial impact COVID-19 has placed on UW Medicine.

The health care system says the financial situation is the result of lost revenue at clinics due to the cancellation of elective and non-urgent procedures and surgeries as well as the high cost of treating COVID-19 patients, which includes testing and personal protective equipment.

“This has been a very difficult, but necessary, decision to address the financial challenges facing UW Medicine and all health care organizations responding to the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Lisa Brandenburg, president of UW Medicine Hospitals & Clinics.

The health care system has taken steps to ensure that patient care is not impacted by the decrease in staffing and that they are equipped to deal with possible future surges of patients with COVID-19, Brandenburg said.

Employees will be furloughed for one to eight weeks and will be able to keep their health insurance during this time, according to a press release from UW Medicine.

Harborview Medical Center, both University of Washington Medical Center campuses, UW Neighborhood Clinics, Faculty Practice Plan Services, UW Medicine shared services, and Airlift Northwest are all being affected by the furlough.

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