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Mercy Cuts Workforce As Coronavirus Crisis Slams Revenue

The exterior of Mercy Hospital Springfield.
Mercy Health
Mercy Health announced it's cutting jobs across the four-state hopsital system because of coronavirus-related losses.

Mercy Health plans to lay off workers in many of its departments because the coronavirus crisis has cut its revenues. 

The Chesterfield-based health system did not specify how many people it would lay off but said in a written statement the cuts would affect every level of the organization. 

Mercy said the furloughs would begin next week and last through the end of July.

Mercy is one of the three largest health systems in the St. Louis region. The chain employs more than 44,000 people across Missouri, Arkansas, Kansas and Oklahoma.

The coronavirus has led to steep financial losses as hospitals have cut elective and nonemergency procedures to conserve protective equipment and keep patients and hospital staff safe from contracting the disease. 

Such proceduresaccount for a huge portion of hospitals’ revenues, experts say.

"I think it's fair to say that hospitals are facing perhaps the greatest challenge that they have ever faced in their history," Rick Pollack, president and CEO of the American Hospital Association, told NPR in April.

The region’s two other large hospital systems, BJC HealthCare and SSM Health, also announced they would lay off and furlough thousands of people because of financial losses.

Hospital officials also are taking pay cuts of up to 26%. The system has frozen hiring and retirement contributions to save money. 

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced Friday it would distribute more than $82 million to Missouri hospitals as part of a federal relief package to offset lost revenue and costs related to treating coronavirus patients. 

The federal agency distributed the funds to hospitals that provided inpatient care for 100 or more COVID-19 patients through mid-April.

Follow Sarah on Twitter: @petit_smudge

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Sarah Fentem is the health reporter at St. Louis Public Radio.