NEWBURYPORT – A total of 134 employees – about 10% of the workforce – have been furloughed without pay from Anna Jaques Hospital and Seacoast Affiliated Group Practice in response to what the hospital president said was a loss of revenue caused by cancellation of elective surgeries during the pandemic.

President and CEO Mark Goldstein said in a statement Wednesday, “Anna Jaques, like all hospitals in Massachusetts, has seen significant reductions in revenue as a result of COVID-19, largely due to the cancellation of all elective procedures and a sharp drop-off in outpatient visits. Our hospital had to make the difficult decision to place 134 hospital and Seacoast Affiliated Group Practice employees on a temporary unpaid furlough.”

Goldstein said the moves were necessary to make sure the hospital remained sustainable at a time when revenue is lean.

"As painful as this is, we are taking the necessary steps to ensure the short- and long-term viability of our hospital," Goldstein said. "We look forward to bringing back the staff as our services reopen and patient volume returns.”

Anna Jaques employs 1,223 people, including part-time and as-needed employees and more than 200 physicians. It is Newburyport’s biggest employer. 

Asked which employees were furloughed, a hospital spokesperson said Anna Jaques was able to redeploy nurses and physicians as part of its patient surge plan.

“Affected employees are from both clinical and nonclinical areas, based on diminished workload in various areas of the hospital and the physician practices,” the spokesperson said.

In light of the temporary staff reductions, Goldstein is taking a 20 percent salary cut while senior management officials are forgoing 10 percent of their salaries.

Located next to the main hospital, Seacoast Affiliated Group Practice is home to primary care doctors and nurse practitioners who see patients 16 years old and up. It offers specialized care for the elderly, a medical weight loss clinic, and management of treatment-resistant depression and anxiety, according to its website.

In the most recent Form 990 filing with the Internal Revenue Service in September 2018, Anna Jaques reported income of $131 million and assets of almost $89 million. The next most recent detailed Form 990 filed with the IRS, from 2017, listed the hospital CEO's salary as just over $654,000, plus other compensation and benefits.

When the governor declared a state of emergency more than a month ago, hospitals in the state stopped elective surgeries and prepared for the expected influx of COVID-19 patients. 

The drop in revenue also hit Lawrence General Hospital, which announced 160 employees were being placed on a four-week furlough, including 16 nurses, the first week of April. The majority of those furloughed were in nonclinical positions, according to a statement from Lawrence General.

Hospital management, in a statement released Friday, stressed this is "a furlough, rather than a layoff."

Lawrence General has about 2,000 employees, a spokesperson said. He said on Monday he could not detail exactly which employees were furloughed due to "personnel matters."  

Lawrence General canceled all elective surgeries as of March 16 and ramped-up "staff, supplies and equipment for the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in a 40% decline in patient volume and income, and increases in costs,” according to the statement.

In addition, the hospital said it made unspecified management reductions and consolidations prior to the furloughs.

According to a 2018 filing with the IRS, Lawrence General reported $259 million in income and had $249 million in assets. In the most recent detailed filing in 2017, the president and CEO was paid $730,000 in salary plus other benefits.

Staff writer Jill Harmacinski contributed to this report.

Dave Rogers is a staff reporter with the Newburyport Daily News. Email him at: drogers@newburyportnews.com. Follow him on Twitter @drogers41008.

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