While saying “no one could have predicted the magnitude of the economic impact of COVID-19 across the nation,” Sentara spokesperson Dale Gauding said recent pay cuts and other financial measures were necessary to preserve jobs.

“The changes we made affect everyone at every level. We understand these temporary economic measures will present challenges for our employees, but they are necessary to preserve jobs and keep our dedicated team intact, which is our priority,” said Gauding.

This is in response to a recent email all Sentara employees received from Michael Gentry, Sentara executive vice president and chief operating officer.

The email says Sentara will be decreasing base salaries for senior leaders and executives by 10-20%; forgo annual market and merit salary increase for all employees; physician compensation adjustments to achieve an overall 10% reduction; 403b and 401K matching contributions will be suspended; a decrease or elimination of overtime; a moratorium on conferences, continuing medical education and travel; and departments will need to ensure the hours worked “takes into consideration the volume and cost structure demands.”

“As we’ve seen, no sector is immune. Like other hospital systems around the country, we saw a dramatic decrease in patient volumes following the suspension of routine services,” said Gauding.

The employee email says they’ve had an average of 40 to 45% drop in patient volumes that could lead to being below revenue expectations of $778 million.

The Sentara spokesperson also said these changes to benefits and work schedules are temporary.

The email from the executive vice president also states they plan to modify services with preferences for digital and/or remote interaction – “and grow those services.”

They also have instituted a hiring freeze and eliminated most purchase labor, as stated in the email.

It also talks of a phase two that will target real estate, construction, capital projects and analysis of all contracts and vendor agreements.