Trinity Health announces more furloughs, job cuts in pandemic's wake

Charles E. Ramirez
The Detroit News

Trinity Health is furloughing some Michigan workers and laying off others due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it said this week.

One of the nation’s largest Catholic health care systems, the Livonia-based non-profit is not saying how many of its workers will be affected.

"Staffing decisions are being made in each market and tailored to each community’s resumption of patient volume," spokeswoman Maria Seyrig said Wednesday in an email.

According to media reports, the health care provider is furloughing and laying off about 1,000 workers in Michigan.

The nonprofit announced Monday it was adjusting staffing levels and other expenses at its facilities in 22 states because of a decrease in revenues and an increase in operational costs caused by the pandemic.

It said some staffing decisions will be position eliminations, and others will consist of extended furloughs or reduced schedules. All colleagues whose positions are eliminated will be eligible for a paid notice period, outplacement services, severance pay and health and other benefits through their severance period, the nonprofit said.

Michael Slubowski, president and CEO of Trinity Health, called the decisions painful, but necessary. He said they were being taken to ensure the health care system can continue its ministry.

"While we have received funding from (The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security) Act that has helped cover our operating deficits for a few months, it is not enough to sustain us into the future,” he said Monday in a statement. “Our health ministries are seeing different rates of return of patient volume in each market we serve. We believe our revenue will be lower than previous levels for at least a few years. In order to align our cost structure with volumes, our leaders are making difficult and painful decisions that impact our colleagues. We are a healing ministry of people caring for people, and we will do our best to support our colleagues facing transitions.”

In April, the pandemic prompted Trinity Health to furlough 2,500 employees from its Michigan workforce.

Since March, the nonprofit has invested in supplies, equipment, pharmaceuticals and staffing to ensure patient and worker safety during the pandemic, Trinity Health officials said. It also temporarily closed under-utilized services, reduced work schedules and cut executives' pay.

“We must now focus on what is required to restructure our organization and redesign our services to meet the needs of our patients in the coming months as we continue to live with the presence of COVID-19,” Slubowski said. “We have a new strategic plan that will enable us to grow existing and new services. We remain committed to our mission and core values, and we will persevere to fulfill the essential health needs of the communities we serve.”

Trinity Health operates 92 hospitals, has 133,000 employees and annual revenues of about $18.3 billion. In Michigan, its facilities include the Saint Joseph Mercy Health System, which has hospitals based in Ann Arbor, Chelsea, Howell, Livonia and Pontiac, as well as the Mercy Health system which has hospitals in Grand Rapids, Muskegon and Shelby.

Twitter: @CharlesERamirez