Coronavirus: Hospitals furloughing some staff, but will call them back when patient surge hits

MONTGOMERY COUNTY — Hospitals are seeing fewer patients right now as elective surgeries have been prohibited by the state in reaction to the coronavirus pandemic.

Some hospital administrators are telling some employees from different work groups to go home -- but to be ready to come back when the expected surge in patients suffering from COVID-19 hits.

Furloughed hospital employees still have their health care and benefits and some are being paid as if they are taking vacation pay. Some are off without pay.

Tim Dutton, Kettering Health Network, told News Center 7's Jim Otte, "Some people have elected to take time off, others have elected to go on a furlough. We're trying to give options to people. It's part of the target in the plan."

Dutton said the number of people involved is in the dozens to as many as 100. The number is fluid, he said.

The same plan was happening with Premier Health, which owns Miami Valley Hospital.

"We have offered many of our employees the opportunity to take both paid and unpaid time off for short periods of time as we have finalized preparations for the anticipated surge of COVID-19 patients," Premier officials said in a statement issued Wednesday evening.

"In some targeted areas, we have temporarily released (furloughed) some employees (non-essential – non-clinical employees and partners who are not providing direct patient care due to the COVID-19 pandemic).

"Given the rapid pace of change that is occurring, we may recall employees quickly as business needs warrant. Benefits continue uninterrupted for these valued members of our team. In addition, our senior leaders are doing their part to control costs by taking a temporary cut in pay."

Both the Kettering Network and Premier Health have set up special funds with the intent of supporting employee needs, as Premier Health officials said they executed after the 2019 Memorial Day tornado outbreak.