UTICA, N.Y. – Mohawk Valley Health System is furloughing 20% of its workforce, or around 800 people, as of Wednesday, according to MVHS officials.
The employees are expected to be furloughed for the next four months to give MVHS a chance to strengthen its financial outlook after facing significant revenue losses during the coronavirus pandemic.
"We chose to furlough employees because we wanted to support our employees and maintain a relationship with them. One of my primary goals has been to make sure that our employees do not end up in a position where they cannot meet their mortgage or rent or cannot afford to feed their families. A great deal of thought and consideration was put into how we fashioned this furlough. Furloughed employees remain our employees with their health benefits in place. And while out on furlough, they’ll draw from both state and federal unemployment," said MVHS CEO Darlen Stromstad
This comes one day after MVHS announced 5%-15% pay cuts to vice presidents, directors, managers, physicians, nurse practitioners, physician assistants and the CEO.
Stromstad says the New York State Nurses Association has rejected the MVHS furlough proposal, but they are still working with other unions on an agreement, including the Communications Workers of America and the United Food and Commercial Workers.
"We are negotiating with CWA and UFCW and hopefully we will reach an agreement to adopt a furlough proposal. Unfortunately, NYSNA has rejected our furlough proposal, so we are forced to implement the layoff provisions in the collective bargaining agreement," said Stromstad.
MVHS employees roughly 4,000 people.
According to Stromstad, other measures of the COVID-19 Recovery Plan include a four-month suspension of Urgent Care services and implementing telehealth.
In an effort to save funds, MVHS is also renegotiating service contracts, negotiating cost savings opportunities with medical staff, and eliminating all discretionary spending and deferring capital investments.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Tuesday that hospitals in New York could start performing elective surgeries again if they are in an area that has low-risk of a coronavirus surge
MVHS had set a tentative date of May 7th to resume elective outpatient procedures, but say they will try to do it sooner, now that the governor has given them the go-ahead to do so on April 28th.
Stromstad says the furloughs were a difficult, but necessary, decision.
"We had no choice. We have to make sure that we attain financial viability for the organization or it puts everybody at risk. So, we have no choice."