The Wyoming Medical Center's board of directors and administration have temporarily reduced work hours for nonclinical staff and reduced salaries for management due to the loss of income from dealing with the coronavirus pandemic, according to its spokeswoman.

"We are not implementing layoffs or eliminating any positions," Kristy Bleizeffer said.

The loss of patient volume and revenue also affects the 26 other critical care hospitals in the state, Wyoming Hospital Association President Eric Boley said.

Bleizeffer and Boley said the WMC and other hospitals have suspended elective surgeries and procedures and reduced services to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Those cutbacks allow hospital beds, staff and supplies meet the needs to treat COVID-19 patients, they said.

However, the cutbacks also mean a loss of revenues, Bleizeffer and Boley added

Bleizeffer emphasized the actions at the Wyoming Medical Center are temporary. The services will resume when it is safe to do so, she added.

Meanwhile, employees still receive full benefits regardless of their hours worked, Bleizeffer said.

"We understand how much anxiety this pandemic creates for our valued employees, and so many others across the nation," she said. "In no way does this action reflect on the care and professionalism our staff exhibits every day."

Boley said hospitals' high overhead remains the same regardless of how many patients they serve, and he knows of many that are "blowing through their cash reserves."

Rural hospitals, too, have suspended their elective surgeries and procedures, which results in a loss of revenue, he said.

Unlike a lot of businesses, hospitals can't receive financial support from the U.S. Small Business Administration's low interest economic injury disaster loans if they are government owned, Boley said.

The federal government recently released $30 billion for hospitals that offer services under Medicare, but in Wyoming that trickled down to about one to one-and-a-half payrolls, he said.

On the state government level, Boley said the Legislature's Management Council met last week.

The Legislature would need to meet in a special session to allocate $1.25 billion the state received through the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security -- CARES -- Act passed by Congress and signed into law by President Donald Trump on March 27.

About $660 million of that has already arrived, and Boley said he is working to try to steer some of that to the hospitals and health care providers in the state.

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