Colorado nurses and other healthcare workers are telling 9Wants to Know they’ve been laid off, furloughed or have been asked to take voluntary unpaid time off as unrelated COVID-19 hospital visits dramatically drop.
“So it's extremely frustrating, stressful, and now with cut hours, I will not be able to support my family,” one physician’s assistant told 9Wants to Know.
9Wants to Know has been receiving survey submissions from people who work in healthcare. Many of the recent responses mention forced paid time off or cut hours.
After Governor Jared Polis ordered a halt to non-essential and elective surgeries, many areas of healthcare that don’t handle COVID-19 patients have seen patients staying home, resulting in a significant loss of revenue.
Combine that with the fact many people are not getting into mishaps and accidents as they stay home, emergency rooms across the state are also experiencing dramatic slowdowns.
"ERs are dead quiet. I've never seen anything like this," a nurse told 9Wants to Know.
“As a result, hospitals are doing the responsible thing and trying to manage their resources. Part of that is managing the personnel,” said Julie Lonborg of the Colorado Hospital Association. “This is affecting all Colorado hospitals.”
Lonborg stressed the most impacted will be rural hospitals, which many were already financially struggling before the pandemic hit the state, she said.
When asked if more healthcare layoffs may continue, Lonborg couldn't say.
"I don't think that we know. What we do know is that hospitals are trying to be responsible as they manage through this," Lonborg said.
Mollie Richardson, a dentist in Littleton, told 9NEWS she recently had to furlough five employees at her small business.
“Dentistry falls under this weird niche because we are healthcare providers, business owners,” Richardson said. She has spent hours on the phone trying to navigate resources for small businesses that have been impacted by shutdowns.
“My employees are home and filing unemployment and trying to make ends meet as we are as business owners,” Richardson said.
Lonborg said laid off and furloughed healthcare workers can try to find work in other areas of the medical field where they may be needed.
Healthcare workers may also find places where they can help through the state's volunteer and healthcare worker website.
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