After financial aid was not approved, hospitals are at crossroads with investments to attend COVID-19 and low occupancy.
2,000 employees will be laid off in the middle of the COVID – 19 epidemic in Puerto Rico. Yesterday Hima San Pablo Hospital confirmed the first phase of a layoff plan and the reduction of working hours for medical professionals.
HIMA-San Pablo Group operates four hospitals in Puerto Rico in Caguas, Bayamón, Humacao and Fajardo. The plan will affect at least half of their 4,900 staff.
The chief operation officer, Claudia Guzmán, explained that the organization has been seriously affected by the significant drop in hospital admissions. People are afraid to visit a hospital for non-COVID-19 related issues. And their operational costs have not decreased. They also had to invest in equipment and medical supplies for COVID-19.
She also claims the Fiscal Oversight Board (FOB) that supervises Puerto Rico’s debt, didn’t approved Joint Resolution 507, and therefore denied an emergency economic relief package for hospitals.
“In the absence of an immediate relief package, we have no choice but to make this difficult decision. By acting, the Fiscal Oversight Board (FOB) demonstrated that it does not understand the operation of the hospital industry in Puerto Rico. Hospitals are an integral part of the economic development of the island, of the first 10 Puerto Rican employers, five are hospital groups,” said Guzmán in a news release.
Executive director and CEO of HIMA Group, Armando Rodríguez, also request FOB some kind of incentive for hospitals on the island.
“While federal aid arrives, we need the Board to allow the government to help hospitals and forget for a second of the bondholders,” said Rodríguez.
In the first phase of the reduction, there will be 490 layoffs of clerical and administrative employees and 1,510 reductions in working hours for nursing personnel and other health professionals.
According to the Health Department, hospital occupancy is at 30%, so it still has capacity if positive cases continue to arise.
Guzmán criticized the government interest in turning the Convention Center into a large capacity hospital.
“Instead of investing in solutions to get around, they should invest in the Puerto Rican professionals who are dealing with the problem,” he said.