Palomar Health to lay off 317 employees

Health

SAN DIEGO (CNS) – Palomar Health announced Tuesday that it is laying off 317 employees effective Wednesday, citing significant patient visit declines and loss of revenue as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to the hospital, it has seen a 45% to 50% decrease in overall patient visits since the coronavirus outbreak began, absorbing a $5.7 million operating loss in March, “with losses in April expected to be worse, yet hard to estimate given the uncertainty of the virus.”

Palomar Health, which operates multiple medical centers and clinics in north San Diego County in San Marcos, Poway, Escondido, Ramona and Rancho Bernardo, is far from the only health care provider feeling the impact.

UCSD Health Center has lost more than $50 million in revenue since March, Voice of San Diego reported Tuesday.

The 317 positions represent 5% of Palomar’s workforce and the majority are part-time workers. The number includes 50 clinical RNs. The remaining 267 positions are spread across the organization, ranging from clerical staff to technicians.

Employees who are affected will receive a severance package and are immediately eligible for unemployment and health insurance coverage through their severance period, Palomar Health officials said.

San Diego County gave the green light last week to hospitals to begin performing elective procedures, if the facility’s resources can handle it.

Palomar Health “will resume surgical procedures based on the availability of personal protective equipment and virus testing, but the loss of revenue from shutting down elective surgeries for the past six weeks cannot be recovered quickly,” according to a hospital statement.

A federal 202-bed emergency overflow medical facility — which will not be used unless the county’s resources are stretched too thin — opened last week and occupies two formerly vacant floors of Palomar Medical Center Escondido.

Hospital officials noted that future patient visits may also be negatively impacted by the uncertainties of the economy as patients may lose insurance due to unemployment and delay non-emergency surgeries for more prosperous times.

“These are extremely tough decisions that are taken very seriously because we know they affect the livelihood of our employees,” said Palomar Health President and CEO Diane Hansen. “However, the sooner we make these tough decisions, the sooner we will be able to stabilize our business and get back on the road to recovery. It is our responsibility to ensure Palomar Health provides high-quality medical care to our community during and after this pandemic.”

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