KING CITY, Calif. (KION) Mee Memorial Healthcare System said it is seeing fewer patients in recent weeks, and because of that it is facing a decline in revenue leading to cutbacks.
Mee Memorial said 59% fewer patients visited in April, and it believes COVID-19 concerns could be to blame.
"We're concerned that patients may be neglecting their health needs out of fear of contracting or spreading COVID-19, and we want to make sure they know they have safe treatment and consulting options," said Rena Salamacha, Interim CEO of Mee Memorial Healthcare System.
Mee Memorial said it has worked to get all assistance available through the CARES Act and other Congressional and federal actions, but it has not been enough to make up for losses.
Because of that, Mee Memorial's leadership team is making cutbacks to make sure it can still provide essential and basic services to the community.
The cutbacks include:
- Layoff of 55 staff members
- A hiring freeze for positions not essential to COVID-19 response or viability of healthcare system
- Salary reductions
- Suspension of annual merit increases
- Temporary suspension of some specialty services experiencing low demand, such as labor and delivery and cardiology
"It was a very, very difficult decision that we had to make for the financial viability of the future of Mee Memorial," said Salamacha, in an interview with KION.
The cutbacks are effective immediately, but Mee Memorial said they will not affect emergency room services, bedside nursing care or investments in PPE and equipment needed for COVID-19 treatment.
Mee Memorial is the only hospital in south Monterey County. The next closest is over 40 miles away in Salinas. King City city manager, Steven Adams, said the city will continue to support the hospital during these challenging times. "The service to our community, in terms of healthcare and providing the quality of life that we want to have here, is really the thing that is so critical about the hospital," said Adams.
The healthcare system said that its hospital and clinics are still available for appointments and treatment, and it has taken recommended steps for patient and staff safety.
"It's important to keep following all public guidelines issued by the state and local authorities, but we remain an essential service here, providing both personal and telehealth services to the community," Salamacha said.
Telehealth sessions can be arranged by calling 831-385-7100 for the hospital or King City clinic or 831-674-0112 for the Albert and Donna Oliveira clinic in Greenfield.