SSM Health will temporarily reduce its workforce by 5% through a furlough across its four-state health system as it seeks to address the financial impacts of the new coronavirus.


The furlough will affect approximately 2,000 employees, while another portion will have reduced hours in a partial furlough.


Furloughed employees remain employed by SSM and can return to their position at the end of the furlough period, which is expected to last up to 13 weeks, according to a news release.


Furloughed employees will be able to seek COVID-19 aid package benefits during this time. SSM also intends to provide a special one-time return-to-work adjustment to assist with the difference in pay if an employee is not reimbursed the full base pay through government unemployment programs, the release stated.


SSM will continue to cover health benefits for furloughed employees.


SSM continues to invest in supplies and tools needed to respond to the pandemic, but its overall patient volume has decreased by roughly 50%, according to the release.


Other cost-cutting measures the health system is implementing include freezing executive pay and a hiring freeze on noncritical positions. Expenses in support functions were reduced by 20% and noncritical capital expense project were paused or deferred. Discretionary expenses also were frozen.


SSM also announced the closure of multiple medical group clinics and pharmacies in the coming months.


Vandalia Family Medicine will close May 29. Other clinics to close are Fulton Family Medicine and Walk-in Clinic on April 30, Jefferson City Occupational Medicine Clinic on Aug. 28, and the Versailles Family Medicine Clinic in mid-September.


Pharmacies closing include the Tipton Pharmacy on April 30 and the Holts Summit Pharmacy at the end of May.


"These closings are unfortunate but necessary to improve operational efficiency and protect the overall health of our organization so that we may continue to provide exceptional service to our communities, a news release stated.


SSM is working with patients to transfer their health care needs to other clinics.