PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Allegheny Health Network and Highmark are letting go of hundreds of employees.

About 250 AHN employees will be laid off.

AHN says having so many elective surgeries postponed has drastically reduced patient volumes and that most of its appointments are now in their telehealth program. Where before the pandemic its telehealth program would see 50 patient appointments, AHN says it’s up to 4,000 a day now.

According to a statement from AHN, the layoffs will mostly affect corporate and administrative services in addition to clinical support staff in community offices, but not hospitals.

Employees laid off are eligible to be offered severance packages and have the option to extend their healthcare benefits for six extra months at no extra cost.

Highmark also laid workers off from its IT organization.
AHN’s statement reads in full:

Similar to other U.S. health care providers, Allegheny Health Network has experienced significant operational and economic challenges related to the COVID-19 pandemic. In western PA, where the surge of COVID-19 patients has been minimal, social distancing measures and other strategies, such as postponement of elective surgeries, have drastically reduced patient volumes across most service lines. The pandemic has also precipitated a steep rise in the number of virtual and tele-health patient engagements across the network. AHN’s telehealth program has grown from less than 50 patient appointments per day prior to the pandemic to 4,000 per day now.

Although patient volumes at AHN are increasing as the network returns to a more normalized schedule for surgical cases and other procedures, the dramatic increase in telehealth is a trend that is expected to continue to a significant degree in a post-COVID 19 world and over the long-term.

In response to these developments, AHN today is moving forward with a realignment of its operations that will include a workforce reduction of approximately 250 employees. Those impacted by the workforce reduction are mostly from AHN’s corporate and administrative services, in addition to some clinical support staff based at AHN’s community physician practices. The action will have no impact on AHN’s hospital-based caregivers.

AHN employees who are displaced as a result of this action and who are eligible will be offered severance packages, assistance with external job placement, and the opportunity for redeployment with the Highmark Health enterprise should their qualifications match other open positions. Impacted employees will have the opportunity to extend their existing healthcare benefits for a minimum of six months at no additional cost to themselves. They will also be eligible for unemployment and stimulus benefits.

Today is a difficult day for our organization. Any action that displaces employees, no matter how necessary, is the hardest decision an organization can make and we are doing everything we can to help support those who have been impacted. The unprecedented impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has fundamentally altered the way we interact with many of our patients. It’s a new normal that we must embrace moving forward in order to best position our organization for continuing, long-term success in meeting the health care needs of our patients and communities.

AHN currently employs more than 21,000 people, representing a growth of 37% over the past five years. The Network also continues to recruit for positions in clinical and operational areas that are critical to the organization’s strateg

In a separate action today, Highmark Health’s IT department and HM Health Solutions reduced their workforce by approximately 130 positions due to the impacts of the COVID 19 pandemic.

 

Highmark also released a statement, which reads in full:

As a result of our continuous assessment of ways to enhance our technology organization to ensure that we are delivering the best outcomes, in 2015 we announced that we were changing how Highmark Health’s IT function sources infrastructure services. Today we are announcing the final stage of this transition, which involves the reduction of approximately 63 positions in the Highmark Health IT organization. These employees will immediately be eligible for employment by our external partner.

In addition, to maintain our solid position and continue to deliver effectively and efficiently to our members during the uncertainty and volatility driven by the COVID 19 pandemic, while also securing a strong future for our organization, we must assess every aspect of our operations, and this includes our workforce. The economic environment triggered by the pandemic has resulted in increased unemployment and therefore, less insured members at the health plans that HMHS serves. As a result of all these considerations, we are reducing the size of our workforce by an additional 60 positions.

Positions impacted by today’s actions were in the Highmark Health IT organization and HM Health Solutions, our enterprise Technology organization. Those who are displaced by these actions, and who are eligible, will receive a severance package and/or have the opportunity for redeployment within the organization based on their qualifications for open roles. Impacted employees will also have the opportunity to extend their existing healthcare benefits for a minimum of six months at no additional cost to themselves. They will also be eligible for unemployment and stimulus benefits.

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