The entrance to Lakes Region General Hospital – part of LRGHealthcare along with Franklin Regional Hospital – sported signs thanking health care workers on the front lines of the coronavirus fight.  (Adam Drapcho/The Laconia Daily Sun file photo)

LACONIA — LRGHealthcare has re-opened most of the doctors’ offices and medical departments that were closed in early April because of the coronavirus pandemic, but many of its employees remain on furlough, CEO and President Kevin Donovan said Monday.

“While we do not have an exact figure, we likely have somewhere around 30 percent of the workforce still furloughed to some extent,” Donovan said in an email.

The not-for-profit health system, which runs Lakes Region General Hospital and Franklin Regional Hospital, originally furloughed about 600 employees, or half its workforce. This came after it lost 60 percent of its ongoing revenue when it ended elective procedures to create capacity for an expected surge of coronavirus patients.

Elective surgeries have resumed and doctors are back in their offices seeing patients.

“But it does not mean we are open to full, previous capacity,” Donovan said. “Much like other parts of society, we are reopening at partial levels. Initially, physicians and providers are coming back at half-time and ramping up later in the summer from there.”

Hospital departments are also being brought back at reduced capacity.

Yet to be opened are senior psychiatric services and the pulmonary function testing laboratory.

“We are in discussions with New Hampshire Oncology and Hematology to determine a date to bring back oncology and cancer center services,” Donovan said. “We know that the community very much is looking forward to that day, as are we.”

Some employees find it difficult to return because of child care issues.

“A real challenge exists for employees who have lost day care coverage or cannon send their children to camps and activities,” Donovan said. “Without this ability, it makes it hard for many of them to return.”

A re-opening of elective procedures and outpatient services should eventually help the health care system’s finances, which have been suffering for years.

“Finances are somewhat stable at the time being, thanks to the stimulus funds that the state and federal government provided,” Donovan said. “However, as we bring services back, it takes up to 45-60 days to be paid for services rendered. That means we need to be extremely thoughtful on how fast we bring services back as we need to pay for supplies, workforce and other expenses up front.”

Meanwhile, LRGH officials must prepare for the possibility that COVID-19 case could increase at any time. Other parts of the country have seen an uptick in cases after implementation of reopening plans. There is also concern that cases could surge in the fall.

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