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Hospital workers reassigned, furloughed

Mercy Health makes changes due to virus

Mercy Health-Youngstown temporarily is reassigning and laying off employees unable to work for various reasons.

These furloughs are because of closures, cancellations and low primary care, outpatient and surgical numbers caused by the novel coronavirus pandemic, the health care provider announced Wednesday.

The decision will affect many support service associates who are not directly working on COVID-19 activities.

In addition to the furloughs and redeployments, Mercy Health also is suspending hiring for any positions not directly impacting its 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 caregivers 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,” Mercy Health said in a statement.

It was unclear Wednesday how many people will be laid off, however. The furlough is expected to last 30 to 90 days.

Mercy Health-Youngstown operates St. Elizabeth Youngstown Hospital, St. Elizabeth Boardman Hospital and St. Joseph Warren Hospital.

Those laid off will be paid through Friday and then paid time off — vacation hours — will be paid until that is gone. Afterward, they will be eligible for unemployment benefits.

“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,” the release states.

Bon Secours Mercy Health, the Cincinnati-based health care system that Mercy Health-Youngstown belongs to, plans to furlough 700 full-time equivalent positions across seven states and 12 markets, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reported, citing Bon Secours.

The total furloughs are less than 1 percent of the 51-hospital system’s 60,000-member workforce.

The newspaper also reported Bon Secours CEO John Starcher said recently a projection estimates the health system will have operating losses of more than $100 million per month as a result of the impact of COVID-19, including the cancellation of elective surgeries and primary care services.

The Bon Secours Mercy Health Foundation has provided $60 million to an emergency fund to help associates facing serious financial challenges.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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