Bon Secours to furlough associates ‘not directly working’ on COVID-19 response

Local News

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Bon Secours Mercy Health said Tuesday that they plan to furlough or redeploy members of its work force who are not aiding with the COVID-19 response or who cannot work due to temporary closures and cancellations prompted by the pandemic.

The health care system, one of the largest in the country, expects the temporary furloughs to last 30 to 90 days.

According to its own site, the health system has 48 hospitals and employs 60,000 associates, including 2,100 physicians across the U.S. There are 11,500 employees at the seven hospitals in the Bon Secours Virginia Health System, which includes four in the Richmond area and three in Hampton Roads.

“The total number of furloughed employees includes 700 total full-time equivalents across seven states and 12 markets, which is less than 1% of the 51-hospital system’s total workforce of 60,000,” Jenna Green, a spokeswoman for the health system, said in an email.

John Starcher, the president and CEO of Bon Secours Mercy Health, said in a message to associates that a hiring freeze has been implemented and wage increases have been frozen. Employees impacted will still get paid for working through Friday, the health care system confirmed Tuesday.

The full statement from Bon Secours announcing the furloughs:

As a ministry and throughout our history, we’ve always answered the call to serve in a time of great need, when resources are scarce and entire communities are relying upon us. The COVID-19 pandemic has caused an unprecedented demand for health care services. Simultaneously, the COVID-19 pandemic has caused an unprecedented decline in services and other work within our ministry.

In response to this unprecedented situation, and following deep reflection and prayer, our ministry is acting quickly to redeploy or temporarily furlough associates who are unable to work due to temporary closure, cancellation and low census in primary care, outpatient and surgical services. This will also affect many support services associates who are not directly working on COVID-19 activities. We are also suspending hiring for any positions not directly impacting our COVID-19 and care responses.

These decisions will help our ministry preserve life and provide vital health care services to the increasing number of patients that require care; be good stewards of our resources and provide adequate support to our care givers as they care for our communities; and be thoughtful about caring for those associates whose roles are vitally important to our ministry but are not directly supporting patient care during this time of crisis.

The temporary furlough is expected to last 30 to 90 days. Affected associates will be paid for working through April 3, and then available PTO hours will be paid until depleted. Associates are eligible for unemployment benefits. The Bon Secours Mercy Health Foundation has generously provided $60 million to the Bon Secours Mercy Health Associate Emergency Fund, which will help associates facing serious financial challenges.

It is critically important to note that the decisions made are in no way a reflection of our associates’ contributions or the great care provided to our people and communities. The efforts of our entire team, combined with the tough decisions we are making today, will enable us to continue to focus on the COVID-19 response, which we expect to escalate in the coming weeks, and ensure ongoing compassionate care for years to come. Our frontline caregivers are serving with compassion, professionalism and courage as we care for our patients, and we support their tireless efforts.”

Bon Secours Mercy Health

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