Gundersen temporarily reduces staff due to COVID-19

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LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT) – Gundersen Health System is temporarily reducing staffing through furloughs and reduction in hours for some staff. Gundersen is addressing the financial stress created by COVID-19 and direct essential services and resources to an anticipated increase in COVID-19 care and treatment needs.

“We have been intensely focused on the safety of our patients, visitors, and staff,” said Gundersen chief executive officer Scott Rathgaber, MD. “We have planned for a potential surge in COVID-19 patients and worked to preserve our resources and supplies to be ready. We also cancelled elective and non-essential procedures and appointments to help reduce the potential spread of COVID-19 in our communities, conserve protective equipment, and ensure hospital capacity for the surge.”

Specific numbers of impacted staff are not yet known. Gundersen officials said the health system will support impacted staff with all available resources.

While the organization is working on the frontlines in the fight against COVID-19, Dr. Rathgaber explains Gundersen and the healthcare industry are not immune to the financial and economic stress caused by the global pandemic.

Depending on the Gundersen service and location, the organization has seen a 40 to 80% decrease in business operations due to, among other actions, the cancellation of procedures and appointments as a COVID-19 health and safety measure.

“Furloughs and reduced hours are clearly difficult actions. But these are temporary actions,” Dr. Rathgaber said. “We plan to bring staff back to fully serve the needs of our patients and communities when our procedures and appointments can safely return to normal operations.”

Gundersen remains extremely grateful for the community support and significant contributions to limiting the spread of COVID-19 through social distancing and hand hygiene guidelines. Individual actions contribute to a successful response to this unprecedented challenge, health system officials said.