Hospitals around the nation are facing severe financial issues due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The Cedar Rapids Gazette reports that Mercy Medical Center in Cedar Rapids will begin furloughing employees or placing them on unpaid leave. More than 200 employees at the Cedar Rapids hospital will be affected.

According to a statement by the hospital to The Gazette, the moves ensure that the system's financial strength continues "now and into the future." 48 employees will be temporarily furloughed, including 30 whose partial furloughs mean fewer hours. Another 157 staff members will be forced to take either paid or unpaid leave. Officials with Mercy did not say when the furloughs and layoffs would begin, and did not tell The Gazette how many of them would be unpaid.

As with many hospitals, Mercy Medical Center has faced financial hardships due to the pandemic. The suspension of elective procedures in the spring was a huge blow to hospital profits. But now, many of those patients have been much slower to come back to the hospital for treatment than many expected. The Gazette also reports that the hospital also had repairs to pay for from the August 10th derecho.

Hospital officials say that support from the federal government has been limited, and only covered a fraction of the revenue that has been lost. They say that it doesn't appear that any more help is on the way anytime soon either.

Officials say that the furloughs will only affect departments with low patient numbers and will not affect the hospital's ability to treat patients suffering from COVID-19.

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