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LITTLE ROCK -- A shake-up of administrators at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences has reduced the number of top operating officers from two to one.

Christina Clark now serves as chief operating officer for UAMS and its medical center, ending a split that provided the hospital with its own top operating officer.

Clark's leadership and management role is a cabinet position under Chancellor Cam Patterson.

Restructuring elsewhere has affected 14 positions in units including finance, operations and information technology, said Leslie Taylor, UAMS vice chancellor for communications and marketing.

While the affected positions had been filled, "I would not classify these as layoffs but rather as positions eliminated as part of reorganizations in various business units," Taylor said.

The changes "over the last several weeks" come as UAMS seeks to avoid "triple-digit furloughs and layoffs" that have hit other health care providers because of budgetary losses from the ongoing covid-19 pandemic, Taylor said.

"UAMS is doing everything in its power to avoid that type of action. However, we have taken this time as an opportunity to right size our operation and eliminate redundancies," Taylor said.

The institution -- which has a budget of more than $1.6 billion -- operates a medical school while providing care for patients at a hospital and various clinical sites around the state.

It also has a Northwest Arkansas campus in Fayetteville.

In its budget summary for the fiscal year starting July 1, UAMS stated its finances have been hurt by "the cancellation of elective surgeries and non-urgent visits to reduce the spread of COVID-19."

In March alone, net patient service revenue "was less than budget by $10.1 [million] and less than the same month last year by $31.3 [million]," UAMS stated in documents submitted to the University of Arkansas System board.

A state Department of Health directive prohibited elective procedures for much of April. They have been allowed under certain conditions in Arkansas since April 27.

However, "UAMS anticipates COVID-19 to continue to have an impact on patient revenues through the first quarter of FY 2021," according to its budget summary for the upcoming year. For workers, the year ahead "does not include across the board or merit increases," the summary states.

UAMS, in its budget approved by trustees last month, anticipates a deficit of about $45.6 million for the year.

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