SSM Health announces furloughs for some Oklahoma employees

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OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Days after one local health system announced a reduction in hours and compensation for some employees, SSM Health says they are taking immediate steps to reduce unnecessary costs and expenses.

Officials with SSM Health say executive compensation has been frozen and they are placing a hold on open positions that are non-critical.

At the same time, they have reduced expenses in support functions and paused or deferred non-critical capital expense projects. Also, they froze discretionary expenses for the year.

“After much deliberation and discernment, we’ve also determined it is necessary to place some employees on furlough across our four-state health system, including some in Oklahoma at SSM Health St. Anthony. Additional employees will experience partial furlough through a reduction of hours. Employees on furlough will continue to be employed by SSM Health and can return to their position at the end of the furlough period. They are also eligible to receive state and federal financial assistance due to unemployment insurance and provisions under the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES Act,” a statement from officials at SSM Health St. Anthony read.

Officials say once they return to normal operations, SSM Health intends to provide a one-time ‘Return-to-Work Adjustment’ to assist with the difference in pay if an employee isn’t reimbursed their full base pay through the government unemployment programs.

SSM Health will also cover the cost of health benefits for furloughed employees. Officials say the furloughs are expected to last 13 weeks, but employees could be brought back to work sooner.

“We are confident these measures will enable us to improve organizational performance, while continuing to deliver high-quality, compassionate care for the people who need us. Following in the footsteps of our founding sisters, we must be mindful stewards of all our gifts – whether that is the talents of our team members, our provisions and supplies, or our financial resources. We do this to ensure our ability to continue meeting the needs of our friends, families and neighbors for generations to come,” the statement read.

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