UW Medicine will furlough approximately 4,000 unionized employees due to financial challenges related to COVID-19 response, the Seattle-based organization said May 25.
The furloughs will last at least one week and as many as eight weeks. Affected employees will maintain their healthcare benefits, including insurance, during the furlough.
“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,” Lisa Brandenburg, president of UW Medicine Hospitals & Clinics, said in a news release. “We have taken deliberate steps to ensure patient care is not impacted by aligning staff levels with current and predicted patient volumes including the return of elective procedures, expanded in-person clinical services and continued expansion of telehealth, while ensuring UW Medicine is prepared to respond to future surges of patients with COVID-19.”
The decision comes one week after UW Medicine announced furloughs of 1,500 professional and nonunion staff members. UW Medicine said executive leaders, directors and managers are also participating in furloughs.
The actions are intended to help the organization address an anticipated $500 million loss from the pandemic.