Quantcast
Connect with us

Huge medical staffing company just slashed benefits for doctors and nurses battling COVID-19 outbreak

Published

on

by Isaac Arnsdorf

Emergency room doctors and nurses many of whom are dealing with an onslaught of coronavirus patients and shortages of protective equipment — are now finding out that their compensation is getting cut.

Most ER providers in the U.S. work for staffing companies that have contracts with hospitals. Those staffing companies are losing revenue as hospitals postpone elective procedures and non-coronavirus patients avoid emergency rooms. Health insurers are processing claims more slowly as they adapt to a remote workforce.

ADVERTISEMENT

“Despite the risks our providers are facing, and the great work being done by our teams, the economic challenges brought forth by COVID-19 have not spared our industry,” Steve Holtzclaw, the CEO of Alteon Health, one of the largest staffing companies, wrote in a memo to employees on Monday.

The memo announced that the company would be reducing hours for clinicians, cutting pay for administrative employees by 20%, and suspending 401(k) matches, bonuses and paid time off. Holtzclaw indicated that the measures were temporary but didn’t know how long they would last.

“It’s completely demoralizing,” said an Alteon clinician who spoke on the condition of anonymity. “At this time, of all times, we’re putting ourselves at risk but also putting our families at risk.”

Some co-workers are already taking on extra burdens such as living apart from their families to avoid the risk of infecting them, the clinician said. “A lot of sacrifices are being made on the front line that the administration is not seeing because they’re not stepping foot in a hospital,” she said. “I’ve completely lost trust with this company.”

Other employers will soon follow suit, Holtzclaw said, citing conversations with his counterparts across the industry. “You can be assured that similar measures are being contemplated within these organizations and will likely be implemented in the coming weeks,” he wrote.

ADVERTISEMENT

However, another major staffing company for emergency rooms, TeamHealth, said its employees would not be affected. “We are not instituting any reduction in pay or benefits,” TeamHealth said in a statement to ProPublica. “This is despite incurring significant cost for staffing in anticipation of surging volumes, costs related to quarantined and sick physicians, and costs for PPE as we work hard to protect our clinicians from the virus.”

Alteon and its private-equity backer, Frazier Healthcare Partners, didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.

Private equity investors have increasingly acquired doctors’ practices in recent years, according to a study published in February in JAMA. TeamHealth was bought by Blackstone Group in 2016; another top staffing firm, Envision Healthcare, is owned by KKR. (The staffing companies have also been implicated in the controversy over “surprise billing.”)

ADVERTISEMENT

Hospital operators have also announced cuts. Tenet Healthcare, a Dallas-based publicly traded company that runs 65 hospitals, said it would postpone 401(k) matches and tighten spending on contractors and vendors. Emergency room doctors at Boston’s Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center have been told some of their accrued pay is being held back, according to The Boston Globe. More than 1,100 staffers at Atrius Health in Massachusetts are facing reduced paychecks or unpaid furloughs, and raises for medical staff at South Shore Health, another health system in Massachusetts, are being delayed. Several other hospitals have also announced furloughs.

“We all feel pretty crestfallen,” another ER doctor employed by Alteon said in a text message. “I did expect support from our administrators, and this certainly doesn’t feel like that.”

ADVERTISEMENT

At Alteon, Holtzclaw wrote that the measures were necessary despite relief available from the $2 trillion stimulus that Congress passed last week. Those provisions include deferring payroll taxes, suspending reimbursement cuts and receiving advance Medicare payments.

Alteon’s pay cut doesn’t affect hourly rates for clinicians, but some of the people characterized as administrative employees are practicing doctors such as medical directors, according to one who spoke on the condition of anonymity. In his case, he said the cut amounts to about $20,000 a year.

“Every day I’m in county and federal emergency meetings. This is besides seeing patients. I’m doing more hands-on work right now than ever before,” he said. “I’m getting calls 24/7 from the hospital administration, the county management team. I have not had a day off in over two weeks. And I’m working all this for 20% less.”

ADVERTISEMENT

The medical director said he understood the company has to cope with lost income, but he wished the leadership had let employees choose among a range of sacrifices that would best suit their individual circumstances.

“This decision is being made not by physicians but by people who are not on the front lines, who do not have to worry about whether I’m infecting my family or myself,” he said. “If a company cannot support physicians during the toughest times, to me there’s a significant question of integrity.”

Claire Perlman and Maryam Jameel contributed reporting.


Report typos and corrections to: [email protected].
READ COMMENTS - JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Continue Reading

Breaking Banner

Former pal Piers Morgan blisters Trump for ‘hiding in his bunker’ as America burns

Published

on

British presenter Piers Morgan criticized President Donald Trump for "hiding in his bunker" instead of leading America out of a dark period in its history.

In an op-ed for The Daily Mail, Morgan addressed the police killing of George Floyd and the protests that followed.

"I understand the rage of the protesters," Morgan wrote. "Yet the one person who could most powerfully effect change is doing the complete opposite."

The op-ed continued:

Continue Reading

Breaking Banner

‘We are leaderless right now!’ Trump supporters despair that he’s doing nothing as riots erupt across America

Published

on

Several supporters of President Donald Trump are very upset that he is not doing enough to crack down on the violence that has swept the country ever since the killing of George Floyd last week.

As reported by the conservative Daily Wire, many conservatives who have otherwise been supportive of Trump are growing exasperated that he spent the weekend hunkered down in the White House and only sending the occasional angry tweet.

"Does Trump have dementia or something?" asked pro-Trump political pundit Mike Cernovitch. "Because sitting on his fat ass right now isn't the right move."

Continue Reading
 

2020 Election

Desperate and ‘out-of-control’ Trump might prompt violent insurrection to stay in office: columnist

Published

on

Writing for the Daily Beast, columnist Michael Tomasky made a strong case that Donald Trump has removed any doubt that he is "morally unfit" to be president and, faced with the possibility he may not be re-elected, could resort to encouraging his followers to take up arms in his defense.

"Naively, I always thought that even Donald Trump would stop short of actually inciting violence. I mean, he’s the president of the United States," Tomasky began before adding, "History means nothing to him, and the future means even less. Presidents—all presidents, even ones I didn’t like—think about the office, the future implications of their actions, the future of our institutions."

Continue Reading
 
 
You need honest news coverage. Help us deliver it. Join Raw Story Investigates for $1. Go ad-free.
close-image