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story.lead_photo.caption The Jefferson City Medical Group building is shown in this March 26, 2020, photo. Photo by Liv Paggiarino / News Tribune.
For more news about the COVID-19 coronavirus, access the News Tribune Health section.

A Jefferson City health care provider has laid off more than three dozen employees.

Jefferson City Medical Group notified 38 staff members Wednesday that it was eliminating their jobs.

"All JCMG staff are valued, essential members of the team," said Jamie Patterson, the group's vice president of marketing and business development. "The heartbreaking reduction in force we endured this week impacted primarily non-clinical, business support personnel across several administrative divisions."

The coronavirus outbreak caused stress to the organization.

"Many organizations have been hit hard by the sudden decline in customers during the COVID-19 crisis, and JCMG is no exception," the physician-owned provider said in a statement. "As the coronavirus spread globally and Mid-Missourians were encouraged to stay home, JCMG experienced a sudden and significant decline in patient visits across all clinics, specialties and services."

Patient visits and procedures had dropped 60-70 percent, causing a significant economic impact on the organization, according to the statement.

"After much deliberation, JCMG made the extremely difficult decision to reduce JCMG's workforce in order to ensure that we continue to have appropriate frontline clinical resources available to care for patients," the statement said.

The layoffs amount to about 5 percent of the organization's workforce.

Meanwhile, although many offered to go without pay, physician shareholders voted to decrease their own salaries by 50 percent.

The provider also reduced staff salaries as part of its plan to protect jobs and access to care.

"Like most small, local businesses, there is always financial pressure, but JCMG has been and must continue to be financially sound despite the current situation," Patterson said. "We cannot predict the future, and just like our friends and neighbors, we are taking it one day at a time.

"JCMG is not a hospital, and as such, charges much less for the same procedures provided in hospital settings. JCMG intentionally operates leanly, which enables us to offer excellent, high-quality medical care that is also cost-effective — a pillar of JCMG's mission. While this represents tremendous value for our patients and their employers, it does not afford us the same financial advantages enjoyed by tax-exempt organizations. Just like any business, we have to make hard decisions. Unfortunately, this was one."

JCMG is an independent multi-specialty group that is committed to providing the best in compassionate, comprehensive health care for our patients, according to its website. The website states it has the following values:

Do what is best for our patients.

Comply with all laws and regulations.

Honor each person's rights and responsibilities with a vision toward the betterment of the group.

Operate efficiently, openly and in an accountable way.

Provide an environment for employee growth and satisfaction.

Emphasize the value of real dollars for real work for physician compensation. Physicians will not take advantage of another physician.

Make decisions by facts.

"JCMG had to make a difficult, gut-wrenching reduction in staffing, as well as reduce wages," JCMG President Jeff Patrick said in the statement. "Our physicians are embedded in the community and work hand in hand with our employees every day; they're family."

He said it was heartbreaking to lose staff.

The statement said JCMG is taking measures to make sure all its facilities are safe during the pandemic. Providers within the group urge patients not to put their own health at risk by skipping or delaying necessary care.

"Our patients' health care needs don't stop during a pandemic, and neither does JCMG," the statement said. "JCMG will also be introducing telemedicine capabilities in most specialty and primary care clinics in coming days in order to provide care for patients who cannot be seen in person."

SSM Health, the St. Louis-based owner of St. Mary's Hospital in Jefferson City, announced Thursday it is continuing to hire in all positions. Interested people are encouraged to apply at jobs.ssmhealthcareers.com.

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