Jason Little’s COVID-19 Update 4-28-20: Important Message


Of all the videos I have done so far, this one is the most important to me. So if you have a team member who has not been watching these, please suggest they tune into this one. I want to accomplish two things today. First, I want you to understand exactly where we are as an organization as a result of this pandemic. Next, I want to inform you about the additional things we are doing to help you get through this crisis.

So to begin, take a look at this graph. The blue line represents the number of surgeries we did at Baptist by month in 2019. The orange line shows what happened to surgeries in 2020 as a result of COVID-19. You will see that our surgery numbers are down over 60% from the prior year. Emergency room visits are down 42%. Clinic visits are down 46%. Meanwhile, our expenses per patient have increased. We are spending lots of money on PPE, on salaries that don’t match our volume, and on new incremental tasks that we have never done before like taking temperatures or converting temporary rooms to negative pressure. So with expenses up and revenue way down, we have initiated a number of responses. We have worked to apply for federal grant dollars. We have delayed some capital projects, and we have focused on care that we can still provide through telemedicine and other innovative means.

We have done everything we know to do to blunt the impact of these dramatic volume decreases on you and your paycheck. For instance, we have enhanced our benefits, redeployed staff to other areas when their departments closed, and while many other organizations have announced lay-offs, we have kept our team completely together. However, that does not mean that some of our colleagues have not experienced financial hardship. Some workers have received fewer hours than normal due to low census. Some workers like transcriptionists are paid based on productivity and their checks are lower because there are fewer physician notes to edit. It makes me think of a news story I read recently that observed we are not all in the same boat. We are all going through the same storm but we are all in different boats. We understand. This crisis has impacted all of us, but it has impacted us all in different ways.

So here are some additional steps we are taking to keep our team together while we help float everyone’s boat. If you have seen a decrease in your hours that have created a hardship, we have information and resources to assist in the process of applying for supplementary income from the federal and state government. These additional funds can be paired with your check from Baptist based on state criteria. If you would like more information, please go speak with your local Human resources representative who will have more information.

There is another type of lifeboat out there for those of you for whom it might make sense to stop work temporarily. If you have childcare needs or transportation needs or any other reasons why a temporary leave of absence could be helpful, Baptist may be able to assist. This a voluntary leave program, and if you are eligible, it would have a defined end time. But while you were away, you will still receive Baptist health insurance and up to approximately $800 a week of COVID related unemployment. Be advised that each state is different in their rate of pay and the time it takes for approval. Please understand what I am saying. One of my goals from the beginning of this pandemic was for none of our 18,500 team members to lose their job. And so we are not suggesting or requiring that anyone step away from their job. However, if your department has been impacted by low census, it may be beneficial to you and to the organization for you to volunteer for a temporary leave until our volume resumes. If you think this might be beneficial for you and your family, please speak with your manger and your local Human Resources representative who can discuss your potential qualifications. We will approve this and help you file for temporary unemployment on a case by case basis for eligible departments.

Finally, there are some of you who have experienced acute financial distress due to the pandemic and need emergency assistance. We have a fund that may be able to help. Our executive team and our entity CEOs have taken 10% reduction in pay and additionally donated PTO in order to establish a COVID emergency assistance fund for your use. If you are experiencing a COVID related hardship and would like to apply for assistance from this fund, please contact HR. On the other hand, if your boat is sailing along better than some of your colleagues and you would like to make a financial contribution or a PTO donation to that fund, please contact HR for that as well. Our Baptist Foundation will match all of the dollars contributed by our executive team and other colleagues.

So I hope all of that comes as good news to you. Allow me to share more good news. It appears that we will begin to resume some additional surgeries and care for patients starting this week. I am optimistic that while coronavirus is still a very present issue, we will be able to safely care for an increased number of patients in the coming weeks as we explore our new normal. I hope you are as excited as I am to get back to it.

Again, if you are interested in learning more about any of the programs that I mentioned today, please reach out. You are not a number here. As one of our team members, you are very special to us, and we will work hard to find the best answer for your situation. We will get through this together, I promise. And I’m praying for the Lord to bless all of your boats as we serve His children.