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HealthPartners to furlough 2,600 staff, executives taking pay cuts

It comes as hospital systems seek to limit the spread of the coronavirus.

HealthPartners has announced that it will be furloughing 10 percent of its staff while its leaders take hefty pay cuts as the organization prepares for increased numbers of COVID-19 patients.

The furloughs at the Bloomington-based healthcare and insurance provider will affect 2,600 employees in areas where the company has "topped, slowed, or deferred work temporarily."

As it prepares for an increase in COVID-19 patients, HealthPartners has already expanded video and phone visits for patients, reduced its hours of operation, and temporarily suspended most dental and optical care along with all elective, non-urgent surgery.

Now it's embarking on furloughs – with furlough staff retaining their health benefits – while its leaders are taking pay cuts of up to 30 percent, while CEO Andrea Walsh is taking a cut of 40 percent.

There are currently 268 patients hospitalized with COVID-19 and 104 in the ICU in Minnesota, with the state currently having 290 spare ICU beds statewide, with the ability to create just over 1,400 more.

But with Minnesota soon to be in a position to offer 20,000 tests a day for the virus, health systems across the state are preparing to handle an increased number of patients seeking testing, whereas previously patients have been told to stay home and manage systems if they think they have COVID-19.

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“The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic is creating unprecedented challenges, ones we couldn’t have imagined just a few months ago,” said Walsh.

"We’re addressing the challenges and staying focused on our top priority – the health and safety of our patients, members and colleagues by introducing new ways to provide care and coverage.”

Other health providers and insurers that have announced cuts during the pandemic include Mayo Clinic, which has cut pay to a third of its staff, and Duluth-based Essentia, which put 500 staff on leave at the end of March.

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