Our news partners at WDIO report in preparations for an anticipated surge in COVID-19 cases, Essentia Health is placing about 500 non-medical staff members on special administrative leave. This is about 3% of their 14,500 employees across the provider's facilities.

The press release WDIO cites explains "These plans include redeploying our workforce to best position Essentia Health to care for patients, while responding to the significant financial impacts caused by a reduction in services due to the pandemic."

Essentia says "Staffing levels will continually be evaluated and adjusted as needs evolve."

During this period, Essentia says it will maintain health insurance "for the near term" for employees impacted by this decision. Employees placed on leave can also take vacation or paid time off to reduce the financial impact. The release goes on to explain employees "can apply for unemployment benefits, which have been expanded and extended by recent legislation." Essentia says they are offering access to employee-assistance programs like financial counseling, as well as other counseling resources.

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Business North reports that Essentia has closed some of their clinics as well as postponed elective procedures and routine appointments as they prepare for COVID-19. They say they are expecting  a 20-40 percent decrease in revenue due to pandemic-related declines in patient volumes.

In the press release provided by Essentia, Dr. Peter Herman, Chief Medical Officer for the provider said “The decision to refocus our operations for the coming COVID-19 surge is difficult because we deeply appreciate the contributions of all our Essentia colleagues," going on to say "We recognize and regret the hardship this uncertainty will have on our coworkers and their families.”