Carole Peet, CEO and president of Virginia Mason Memorial, speaks at a press conference in front of the hospital's emergency entrance on Tuesday, April 7, 2020 in Yakima, Wash.

After already taking steps to reduce expenses during the novel coronavirus pandemic, Virginia Mason Memorial hospital leaders are now cutting their pay and that of other employees.

Beginning Sunday, executive leadership team pay will be reduced 20% and all other exempt employees will have a reduced work schedule, according to a message to staff from CEO Carole Peet. These are not cuts in hours for health care providers, though the percentage of exempt employees who make up the hospital’s workforce of approximately 2,900 was not immediately available.

Full-time exempt employees will work one fewer day a week until July 11. Employees who work four days a week will work three, the memo said. Pay will be decreased based on new hours and staff cannot use paid time off to replace the hours that have been cut. Benefits will continue to accrue at 100%.

“These reductions will remain in effect until July 11, when we will re-evaluate our financial performance. In addition, we are actively working on action plans to reduce nonessential operating expenses,” Peet said in the message to staff.

Peet praised the “extraordinary work” by Virginia Mason Memorial staff in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. “We are proud of, and committed to, our staff and our community as we come together to fight this global health crisis unlike any we have seen before,” she said.

At the same time, she said, “We are facing unprecedented challenges as a result of these circumstances, including a financial impact that requires significant adjustments to our operations.”

The hospital’s decision to postpone elective patient care, followed a few days later by Gov. Jay Inslee’s order restricting it statewide, was the right call, Peet said. But it eliminated most of Virginia Mason Memorial’s revenue “at the same time hospital officials were making critical investments to care for a surge in COVID-19 patients and realigning our outpatient facilities and care teams to treat these patients and others in new ways,” she said.

Additional measures are needed to ensure the hospital can emerge from this situation in a stable position, she said.

“Our aim is that the duration of this disruption is as limited as possible, and that we are ready to ramp up quickly and resume full operations when it is safe to do so,” Peet said. “Our commitment is to remain financially sustainable so that we can continue to serve the health care needs of our community well into the future.

Coronavirus Coverage

Because of the health and safety concerns, the Herald-Republic is allowing unlimited access with registration to our stories and resources about the novel coronavirus. However, if you’re able to subscribe, please support our journalism. Click here to start your digital subscription.

Reach Tammy Ayer at tayer@yakimaherald.com or on Facebook.