Tenet Health, which runs the Detroit Medical Center, is suspending some employee benefits because of the demands in fighting the COVID-19 virus, representatives said Wednesday.

Funding of a 401(k) match program is being postponed “for the near term, but will provide our employees with this benefit later in the year,” a DMC representative said in a statement.

“Our most important mission right now is to provide the best possible support for our hospitals and other care facilities so they can continue to deliver life-saving treatment to fight COVID-19 and many other illnesses and conditions,” the statement said. 

“Every effort is being made to help bring us all through this crisis, and we have made the decision to direct additional resources to meet the increased demand for healthcare services, address evolving patient needs in our hospitals and protect front-line staff.”

In a March letter to employees, Tenet said: “We have not canceled, eliminated or cut the match for 2019 — just postponed it. This in no way impacts your savings in your own 401k account and still remains an additional benefit you will receive at a later date.”

Tenet representatives did not respond to requests for comment Wednesday night.

The move to trim the employer 401(k) match comes as Michigan health care systems are straining to provide treatment for the new coronavirus and as they push for more resources to meet demands.

The DMC, one of the region’s largest health systems, has joined with other Metro Detroit health systems on potential treatments for the respiratory illness as Detroit and the state explode with virus cases.

“We have been transferring patients elsewhere, and we are really looking forward to the arrangements being made at the (TFC) Center,” said Dr. Teena Chopra, chief of infectious diseases at the Detroit Medical Center, on Monday, referring to space being created at the Detroit convention center for patients with mild symptoms.

“We know that this week and the coming few weeks are going to be very tough on us — just like New York. We have asked for help, just like every other southeast Michigan hospital.”

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the state rose by 1,719 on Wednesday to a total of 9,334 cases, while the number of deaths increased by 78 to 337, according to data from the Department of Health and Human Services.

Through Wednesday, Detroit had 2,483 confirmed cases of coronavirus, representing about 26% of the most recent cases in the state overall, and 82 people have died, city health department figures show. 

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