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Execs take pay cut, workers put on flex schedules as Pardee's revenue drops

Pardee set up a tent to screen patients before they enter the emergency room. Pardee set up a tent to screen patients before they enter the emergency room.

Facing reduced patient revenue despite unprecedented activity in response to Covid-19, Pardee UNC Health Care is reducing pay for top executives and putting front-line workers on a schedule that will flex with demand.

While there are no layoffs at furloughs at this time, top executives are reducing their pay by at least 20 percent and other employees may see their hours fall and then rebound to respond to an expected surge of Covid patients. The actions of the county-owned hospital come as routine physican practice, urgent care visits and elective surgeries have dropped dramatically.

"Medical staff leadership will continue to consult with surgeons to determine which procedures will be considered medically necessary, and which procedures can be delayed with less impact for the patient," the hospital said when it announced on March 25 that it was suspending elective surgeries. "Rescheduling these procedures will minimize the risk of spreading Covid-19 among patients and health care providers, as well as allow us to conserve critical resources and focus care on those that need it most."

While Pardee has been a key part of the county's massive preparedness and response to the coronavirus, it has seen few Covid-19 patients so far, hospital officials have said in briefings.

Here is Pardee's statement:

"Pardee, like many other healthcare organizations and businesses affected by Covid-19, has had to make tough choices that will affect the majority of team members across its organization in order to be able to continue to effectively serve its community.

"While there will be no furloughs or layoffs at this time, there are measures that we’re implementing that will impact our team. Beginning immediately, our leadership team at Pardee will reduce our salary by a minimum of 20%. In addition, selected salaried team members will receive a reduction in salary, which may also include a reduction in hours.

"Hourly employees will continue to flex their hours, a normal practice that we put into place recently in order to match increases and decreases in volumes. Few businesses and organizations have the volumes they had prior to Covid-19; as volumes go down, we must adjust hours to match. However, we anticipate a surge associated with Covid cases in the coming weeks that will necessitate a comparable flex in hours for those employees. This option will allow us to quickly mobilize, while keeping team members employed, in order to address pending healthcare needs.

"These actions are difficult, but they will ensure the long-term viability and readiness of our healthcare system to serve our community, and to continue to be an important employer in our region."

Pardee's revenue was dropping precipitously even before a statewide stay-home order. CEO Jay Kirby told the board during the last regular meeting of Pardee's Board of Directors on March 25 that there were fewer visits to three urgent care clinics and physician practices, usually steady profit engines. By March 20, revenue for the month had plunged 50 percent “because patients are sheltering in place" Kirby said. Two days later, on March 27, both the Henderson County Board of Commissioners and Gov. Roy Cooper issued mandatory stay-at-home orders.