April 8, 2020
In the past six weeks everyone in our country and the world has witnessed unprecedented and disorienting change coupled to a new and frightening ambiguity — no one can predict when the pandemic will end or what the costs, human and financial, will be. And no business or institution in our country is immune from these uncertainties. Our University is devoted to the public health through its missions of care, discovery and education, and, as a result, must be responsive to the health challenges our society faces. Simply put, it is our mission, our calling and our duty to respond and, therefore, we must maintain and expand our efforts to save and heal as many lives as we are able, no matter the cost.
UT Health San Antonio entered March in excellent financial condition, a circumstance built on a foundation of prudent fiscal management, a growing, thriving clinical medical practice and expanding research programs. It is estimated the COVID-19 pandemic will cost the institution about $70 million between now and the end of the fiscal year (August 31, 2020). Reduced revenues from the practice and an increase in cost for supplies account for the majority of the negative variance.
In view of the new realities, I have directed our senior leadership to work in their respective areas in four major domains:
- Prioritizing strategic initiatives to learn which projects can be paused for the time being;
- Cost avoidance by putting expenses that were planned on hold for now;
- Continuing to improve our quest to eliminate inefficiencies by working to streamline processes; and
- Enhancing revenue streams wherever possible.
Our goal is to reduce expenses to the extent possible, thereby ensuring robust financial continuity and strength. The institution has been successful in establishing remarkable positive momentum in clinical practice growth, research achievement and educational attainment for our students. In order to sustain this momentum as we emerge from the pandemic, we must have an intact and efficiently deployed workforce. Steps we need to take now to accomplish this include pauses on compensation increases and some renovation projects along with a flexible hiring freeze. Other steps may be needed as conditions dictate. Detailed financial plans and recommended actions will be continuously communicated by leaders and will also be shared in multiple university communication channels to include email, newsletters, My UT Health and new websites to ensure the information is easily accessible.
I am proud, more than proud really, of the effort and sacrifice made by so many at UT Health to care for our citizens, to advance COVID-19 and other research projects and to creatively educate our students. My personal and sincere thanks to each member of our team for their work. Now, more than ever, the contribution of this institution to the vitality of our city is paramount to our region’s ability to endure in and recover from this crisis. People are depending on us to help them weather the storm, and I am confident that their faith in us is well placed. Thank you for all you do to make lives better.
With admiration and respect,
William L. Henrich, M.D., M.A.C.P.