Essentia Health plans to reduce non-medical staffing levels by 500 persons in preparation for the expected surge of COVID-19 patients in communities the system serves.

Workforce members are being redeploys to best position Essentia to care for patients while responding to significant financial impacts caused by a reduction in services due to the pandemic, Essentia said in its announcement. As a result, employees who are not involved in direct patient care have been placed on a special administrative leave. Staffing levels will be evaluated and adjusted as needs evolve.

“Essentia Health is focused on keeping our staff and communities safe while addressing the challenges of this pandemic,” said David C. Herman, MD, chief executive officer at Essentia. “We are collaborating with regional partners to share resources and ensure a coordinated response in anticipation of an expected COVID-19 surge. Predictive modeling is taking place both within Essentia Health and via our partners across the states we serve. This data-informed modeling will improve our preparedness.”

Essentia Health has postponed elective surgeries and procedures. It also has  closed some clinics and postponed routine appointments.The non-profit projects a 20-40 percent decrease in revenue due to pandemic-related declines in patient volumes. 

Essentia said it is providing support for affected staff members by maintaining health insurance for the near term and offering access to employee-assistance programs like financial counseling, as well as other counseling resources. 

“The decision to refocus our operations for the coming COVID-19 surge is difficult because we deeply appreciate the contributions of all our Essentia colleagues,” Dr. Herman said. “We recognize and regret the hardship this uncertainty will have on our coworkers and their families.”