COVID-19 pushes Confluence Health to operational changes

Submitted by Andrew Canning

Confluence Health Director | Marketing & Communications

WENATCHEE – Confluence Health staff are doing extraordinary work leading in the response to the COVID-19 pandemic. We are proud of and committed to our staff and our communities as they come together to fight this global health crisis.

Confluence Health is facing unprecedented challenges as a result of these circumstances, including financial impact that requires significant operational adjustments. Confluence Health CEO, Peter Rutherford, MD, said, “The decision to proactively postpone elective patient care was the right one, but the suspension of elective procedures and decline in visits to our primary care practices and urgent care centers have resulted in financial challenges. At the same time, we have seen a significant increase to expenses as we’ve made critical investments to expand community testing and realign our facilities and care teams to treat COVID-19 patients. Like other health care organizations, we operate with a low margin. Without changes, we will experience $26 million in operating losses. We are committing $20 million of reserves to help cover losses.” Rutherford said.

Rutherford continued, “Aside from the excellent work done by staff in managing our expenses, we will need additional measures to ensure we can emerge from COVID-19 in a stable position. We were able to protect full pay and benefits for our staff up to this point, but we now need to initiate the following temporary salary reductions:

  • Chief Executive Officer: 25 percent
  • Executive Leadership Team: 10 percent
  • Senior Leadership Team: 7.5 percent
  • Directors: 5 percent
  • Managers: 3 percent
  • Practicing clinicians on production-based salaries: 7-10 percent

“We will work with our teams over the coming weeks to ensure that staff are supported, that the duration of this disruption is as limited as possible, and that we are ready to promptly resume full operations when it is safe to do so,” he added.

Confluence Health Board Chair, Patricia Ortiz Wachtel, said, “The Board of Directors provides governance for Confluence Health, Central Washington Hospital, and Wenatchee Valley Hospital, along with clinics that serve ten communities and span four counties. The Board believes delivering coordinated health care is critically important to our region and that our unified structure is vital to our communities.” She added, “Today, because of COVID-19, Confluence Health is facing unprecedented challenges causing huge financial impacts to the organization’s bottom line. The Board supports this decision to address the impact of COVID-19 to ensure we do not jeopardize the ability to fulfill our mission or compromise our future. Our community needs a healthy Confluence.”