St. Vincent Charity Medical Center puts some staff on furlough amid coronavirus pandemic


CLEVELAND (WJW) — In the middle of the global coronavirus pandemic, some front line health care workers are being furloughed in Cleveland.

“It’s kind of a fluid number going back and forth but right now it’s in the 70s and we have other staff that are just opting to work less days or less hours,” said St. Vincent Charity Medical Center President and CEO Janice Murphy.

She said the directive to cancel elective surgeries hit the medical center especially hard. Those surgeries accounted for 50 percent of revenue.

“Staff has the option to furlough and use their paid time off so that’s their vacation, holiday and sick to supplement their income,” said Murphy. “We’re hopeful this isn’t going to on for a very long time and we’ll be out of it in the next couple of weeks.”

The furloughs include workers in the critical fight to save lives.

“It was nurses, it was surgical assistants all levels of staff, you know clerical staff, support staff across the board,” said Murphy. “The beauty is that we are able to call them back but it’s all aspects of staff.”

Many hospitals are bracing for the wave of COVID-19 patients to come. 

A MetroHealth spokesperson said before it was required by the state, elective surgeries were postponed to preserve personal protective equipment. Several locations were closed to promote social distancing and to redeploy staff to other locations or departments as needed.

A Lake Health representative said they have not issued furloughs or layoffs and are “redeploying all staff for the surge of COVID-19 patients expected.”

Murphy said there is a concern about running out of personal protective equipment for staff at St. Vincent in the weeks ahead. A donation of masks was made from the Center for Health Affairs. She adds they are trying manage the best they can.

“We are very much involved in taking care of the poor and vulnerable but this is a very challenging pandemic,” said Murphy.

The Cleveland Clinic sent the following statement:

“We have not laid off any of our caregivers or put anyone on furlough. Rather, we are paying full salary and benefits for all of these employees and have activated a labor pool to make sure all areas are covered. We temporarily reassign work to fulfill what’s needed across the health system. A nurse may now be check temperatures as opposed to working in elective surgeries.”

University Hospitals also issued a statement:

“Although the suspension of non-essential surgeries and procedures statewide has temporarily reduced staffing needs at certain locations, UH has not furloughed any staff members. We have conducted a system-wide skills census for the redeployment of our staff for necessary patient care and in anticipation of a coming surge of COVID-19 patients. We are continuing to review our practices to assure care for our caregivers who are counted on to serve on the frontlines during this unprecedented health care event.”

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