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St. Joseph’s Health closing two urgent-care centers, reducing staffing levels

By Eric Reinhardt (ereinhardt@cnybj.com)

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St. Joseph’s Health will close its urgent care location at North Medical Center at 5100 W. Taft Road in Clay this summer. It’s also already closed its urgent-care location at Northeast Medical Center in Fayetteville. St. Joseph’s Health on Monday also announced that it will “adjust staffing levels” as it deals with decreased revenue resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. (Eric Reinhardt / CNYBJ)

SYRACUSE, N.Y. — St. Joseph’s Health announced it will close its urgent-care center located at North Medical Center in Clay along with the location at Northeast Medical Center in Fayetteville.

The office in Fayetteville already closed in May due to COVID-19 pandemic and the one in Clay will close this summer, Meredith Price, St. Joseph’s Health CFO, tells CNYBJ.

The urgent-care locations employed 52 people, and St. Joseph’s Health is working to move the employees to different parts of the system. Both centers were losing money.

“We are examining all of our services as we cope with the financial impact of COVID-19. Despite receiving $13.1 million in federal aid, we are projected to lose $40 million this fiscal year,” Price added.

She explained that the urgent-care locations provided doctors, lab services, and imaging services, but “we were not reimbursed at a level conducive to continuing to run urgent cares.”

Moving forward, St. Joseph’s Health will have evening and weekend hours at many of its primary-care locations. Price also notes that “we will expand to offer walk-ins at primary care.”

Additional job cuts

St. Joseph’s Health on Monday announced that it will “adjust staffing levels and other direct expenses” to address decreased revenues caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and to ensure that the health system “can serve its communities in the long term,” per a statement posted on the organization’s website.

In the first quarter of fiscal year 2021, which started Wednesday, St. Joseph’s Health will reduce positions in mostly non-clinical, administrative functions. Some of the affected employees will be among those who were furloughed over the past few months.

Some staffing decisions will be position eliminations, and others will consist of extended furloughs or reduced schedules.

St. Joseph’s Health did not provide a specific number of employees who may be affected. All employees whose positions are eliminated will be eligible for outplacement services, a paid notice period, severance pay. and health and other benefits through their severance period.

“Like most health systems and other industries across the country, we are facing significant pandemic-related challenges. As we ramped up to support inpatients afflicted with COVID-19 and effectively shut down outpatient and elective services during stay-at-home orders, our revenues fell and operational costs increased. While we have received funding from the CARES Act that has helped cover our operating deficits for a few months, it is not enough to sustain us into the future,” Leslie Paul Luke, CEO of St. Joseph’s Health, said in a statement.

Though patients are returning for services, the organization expects the recovery will be “gradual,” with “many unknowns,” including the possible resurgence of the virus and the country’s economic recovery.

“We are seeing gradual rates of patient volume increase but expect our revenue will be lower than previous levels for at least a few years. In order to align our cost structure with volumes, we are making difficult and painful decisions that impact our colleagues,” said Luke.

Since March 2020, St. Joseph’s Health has invested “significantly” in supplies, equipment, pharmaceuticals, staffing and other needs to “ensure colleague and patient safety to address the pandemic.” As it continued, St. Joseph’s Health has also taken several steps to manage expenses through temporary closure of under-utilized services, employee furloughs, reduced schedules, and executive-leader compensation reductions.

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