Martha’s Vineyard Hospital’s parent company, Mass General Brigham (MGB), formerly Partners Healthcare, is cutting executive pay and benefits to prepare for a projected $2 billion in losses.
Speaking to reporters Thursday night, hospital CEO Denise Schepici said executive-level positions across MGB had their salaries cut 5 to 25 percent. Schepici will receive a 25 percent reduction, according to hospital spokesperson Katrina Delgadillo. Delgadillo declined to provide Schepici’s annual salary.
While the pay cuts only affect MGB executives, a 12-month wage freeze will be placed on all staff, executive and nonexecutive, clinical and nonclinical, earning more than $55,000 per year. Employees earning less than $55,000 per year will be excluded from the wage freeze, and will receive a special 403(b) contribution.
The hospital continues to open up more elective procedures, which will bring back much-needed revenue. Last week, Schepici told reporters that the hospital has been losing about $750,000 a week, totaling almost $8 million, since it closed down its elective procedures back in March.
With the help of unsolicited donations and CARES Act funding, the hospital has been able to offset some of those losses. The hospital did receive $16 million in advance Medicare payments, which Schepici said needs to start being repaid in August. She hopes it will be forgiven.
“We’re lobbying hard that those loans should be forgiven for Massachuestts hospitals. We had to bear the cost of being ready, we didn’t lay people off, we kept things going here, not knowing what would happen,” Schepici said. “That’s revenue that was lost during that time, we’re not getting it back.”
This all comes as the hospital is seeing an increase in activity compared to the past few months, as more elective procedures are becoming available. Outpatient operating room cases, ambulatory preventive-care visits, primary care, orthopedic care, surgical visits, women’s health, MRI and CT diagnostics, and podiatry have all seen increases in activity as of late.
Chief nursing and operating officer Claire Seguin said there are available beds for patients as the hospital monitors cases on the Island.
“We look at ICU capacity across the system, and the threshold from the governor is 70 percent, and we are well within that,” Seguin said.
Antibody testing is also being conducted at the hospital for patients, but only for those who meet specific criteria. Antibody tests are only recently being tracked by the Department of Public Health.
Patients are not able to request an antibody test at the hospital. Instead, doctors and nurses are conducting regular viral tests, and only performing antibody tests if that person was negative on the viral test and showing COVID-19 symptoms.
Visitors are being welcomed back at the hospital, but in a limited capacity and at the discretion of the patient’s care providers. Patients with no COVID-19 symptoms are allowed one healthy visitor over the age of 18. Visiting hours are from 1 pm to 8 pm.
Visitors will be asked about any symptoms they are experiencing related to COVID-19, as well as being asked to wear a mask. Those without masks will be provided one.
Rules for Windemere Nursing & Rehabilitation Center are slightly more strict. Visitors are allowed at the nursing home, but must be supervised by a staff member, must be six feet apart, and visit outside. “We’re much stricter in the nursing home, for obvious reasons,” Schepici said.
Speaking on the increase in visitors to the Island, Schepici said she was “disappointed” to see photos of the Oak Bluffs Harbor last weekend with people crowding in the downtown area, not social distancing and not wearing masks.
Town leaders met earlier this week to develop action plans such as a stronger police presence and larger signage.
“Masks and social distancing are the only way we’re going to get through this pandemic and keep the curve flat,” she said. “You would hope that people would just have some common courtesy and common sense, and not leave it over in Woods Hole when they come to visit us.”
She also said visitors should follow state and local guidelines. “I urge visitors, please show some compassion and respect for the Island community that you come here to enjoy, to keep everybody safe including yourself,” Schepici said. “A mask will protect.”
In other news, the hospital’s annual forum, which is usually held in June, will happen this year, but most likely virtually and later in the season, Schepici said.
On Friday, the hospital’s number of confirmed cases remained at 28. A total of 1,329 patients have been tested at the hospital. Of those, 1,269 have tested negative, and 32 are pending results. There are zero coronavirus hospitalizations at the hospital, but three patients with COVID-related symptoms have been transferred off-Island.