As the battle against COVID-19 ramps up across the nation, health care professionals at small and rural hospitals are getting furloughed, reassigned and told their employment contracts are canceled.
Leanne Helmerich is one of 600 staff members furloughed at Hillcrest Medical System in Tulsa County, Oklahoma. She’s out of a job after the hospital announced staff reductions Monday, hoping to consolidate resources during the coronavirus pandemic. She won’t be back until the “need arises.”
“It’s a big pot of emotions,” Helmerich said. “But mostly I’m worried about how I’m going to pay the bills.”
Abby Cachero works as a contract nurse at Integris Baptist Medical Center in Oklahoma City. After weeks of canceled shifts and reduced hours, her hospital said it would cease virtually all operations outside the emergency room, leaving Cachero in the dark on her employment status.
“I don’t even know if I still have a contract with them,” Cachero said. “I’m talking with my recruiter asking if I should be prepared to leave the state for work.”
The latest jobs report from Altarum, a nonprofit research firm for government health insurers, found the health care sector lost 43,000 jobs in March — the largest decline in three decades — amidst the ongoing pandemic.