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Pikeville Medical Center furloughs more than 200 employees

(WYMT)
Published: Apr. 24, 2020 at 5:34 PM EDT
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Pikeville Medical Center will furlough more than 200 employees effective April 26.

On Monday, Pikeville Medical Center CEO and Vice President of the Board of Directors, Donovan Blackburn said they tried to keep employees working in case of a COVID-19 surge but with the lack of elective surgeries taking place and a low number of patients, they couldn't do that.

"We have this huge engine over there with no fuel going in. We have no patients coming in,"said Blackburn. "When you look at impatient admissions right now we are doing half of what we were the same time last year."

Blackburn says some furloughed employees could be asked back to work by next week.

Like most hospitals throughout the nation, PMC will experience a significant financial loss for April and have to take these necessary steps to manage expenses.

“We must protect our most valuable assets, our employees, while performing our fiduciary responsibility to this institution to try to ensure its sustainability for generations to come, while still ensuring we are focused on providing the necessary healthcare for our patients," said Blackburn.

The furloughed employees will now qualify for unemployment benefits as long as they meet the state's unemployment criteria.

“We feel that the combination of state and federal government benefits will create circumstances where the employees that we furlough will experience no negative financial impact on their base pay,” said Blackburn. “Based on information we have received to date, we believe that some people may even receive more in unemployment benefits than they were earning in wages while working.” Blackburn went on to say, “We have instructed any employee who might be negatively impacted by this decision, after applying for state unemployment benefits, to notify PMC’s Human Resources Department of the impact, so that we can make plans to bring that employee back to work. I feel that confident, those who have been furloughed will see no negative impacted at all.”

Blackburn says he is hoping that his plan will enable PMC to operate at an increased capacity by June or early July.

“We expect and sincerely hope this furlough will have a short duration,” said Blackburn. “There is a plan to reopen hospitals. Phase one will start Monday, as the Governor will permit the opening of several departments. If all goes as planned, then Phase two will follow.”

Gov. Beshear and Dr. Stack announced that Phase 1 of reopening the economy will start Monday. As soon as businesses start improving day by day, PMC will start calling back furloughed employees.

Due to the Phase 1 announcement, PMC withdrew an additional 55 employees that were supposed to be furloughed in order to reopen some services on Monday.

Blackburn added, “We hope this progress will continue, which would allow us to recall most or all of our staff in the near future.”