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US university announces furloughs amid pandemic

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Washington, May 26 (IANS) The University of Washington Medicine announced that it was moving forward with furloughs for about 4,000 members of its unionized workforce amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The decision follows actions last week to furlough approximately 1,500 professional and classified non-union staff to help address the financial challenges caused by the pandemic, the Seattle-based UW Medicine said in a statement on Monday.

These collective actions are necessary to address the unprecedented estimated financial impact of around $500 million on UW Medicine due to COVID-19, Xinhua news agency quoted the statement as saying.

The executive leaders, directors and managers are participating in furloughs along with staff across UW Medicine. Impacted employees will be furloughed from one-to-eight weeks and will maintain benefits including health insurance during the furlough period.

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

UW Medicine lost substantial clinical revenue since the onset of the pandemic due to the cancellation or postponement of elective and non-urgent surgeries and procedures and the high cost of COVID-19 treatment, including diagnostic testing and personal protective equipment, the statement said.

UW Medicine previously announced a series of measures to increase revenue and reduce expenses to stabilize its financial foundation.

It has also taken urgent actions to reduce expenses, including cutting salaries of senior leaders and tight controls on spending.

These steps will achieve an estimated savings of $76.5 million, on top of about $180 million in federal funds and state commitments, UW Medicine said.



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