Local medical group defending itself after cutting hundreds of employees' hours

Posted at 4:59 PM, Apr 03, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-05 11:53:18-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) – A local medical group is defending itself after being criticized for cutting employees' hours during the COVID-19 crisis.

10News learned about the changes after being contacted by an employee who was upset that their hours were being cut. It raises the question, how are healthcare workers losing hours in the middle of a pandemic?

San Diego's Arch Health Medical Group has multiple medical centers that provide mostly outpatient services like primary care, specialty care and elective procedures. Executive Director Ken Lester said Friday afternoon that patients have been canceling non-essential visits because of the pandemic.

“A little more than half. Actually about 65% of our volume has dropped,” he told 10News.

Arch Health has now made the difficult decision to cut hours for most all of its nearly 400 staff members.

10News asked Lester why employees’ hours were cut. “It's a long-term strategy. We not only have to stay healthy and whole, we have to stay economically healthy and survive the longer term span to be able to be here for our patients,” he explained.

Arch Health is affiliated with Palomar Hospital. Lester explained that his team is currently working on a crisis strategy to deploy its staff to the hospital if there's a sudden influx of COVID-19 patients. “It's in development right now. Even as we speak,” he added. He explained that clinical staff could work on the front lines and non-emergency staff would work in support roles.

Lester told 10News that even though he's had to cut everyone's hours, the company is continuing to offer benefits to all of its employees.