Cape Fear Valley Health to furlough 300 workers as occupancy rates fall

Coronavirus

FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. (WNCN) — As the COVID-19 pandemic worsens in North Carolina, Cape Fear Valley Health announced Friday it will temporarily furlough approximately 300 employees effective Sunday.

The health system made the announcement in a news release that said it “temporarily closed some services and rescheduled non-essential surgeries, procedures and diagnostic testing to minimize the risk of spreading COVID-19.”

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Those closures and a public advisory for people to stay home have decreased emergency department calls by about 25 percent, the news release said.

“Inpatient occupancy is currently 66 percent, a substantial change from the medical center’s normal occupancy of approximately 100 percent,” the news release said.

Officials said nurses and nursing assistants in the impacted areas will be offered needed temporary positions at the health system’s hospitals.

“As the number of COVID-19 patients increase, the health system anticipates a temporary increased need for staffing in a multitude of areas across the health system. Qualified furloughed employees will be offered these temporary positions at their normal rate of pay,” the news release said.

Here is the full news release from Cape Fear Valley Health:

FAYETTEVILLE – March 27, 2020 – Cape Fear Valley Health will temporarily furlough approximately 300 employees effective Sunday, March 29.

Recently, the health system temporarily closed some services and rescheduled non-essential surgeries, procedures and diagnostic testing to minimize the risk of spreading COVID-19 among patients and healthcare providers and conserve critical resources. The closures have allowed the health system to protect our patients and employees and focus care on those who need it most.

As a result of these changes and the public advisory to stay home during the COVID-19 pandemic, Emergency Department volumes have decreased about 25 percent. Inpatient occupancy is currently 66 percent, a substantial change from the medical center’s normal occupancy of approximately 100 percent.

“This reduction in occupancy will help the medical center accommodate the surge expected in the days ahead,” said Michael Nagowski, Cape Fear Valley Health CEO. “We are grateful to the community for their efforts to stay home and practice social distancing.”

Nurses and nursing assistants in affected areas will be offered needed temporary positions at the health system’s hospitals. As the number of COVID-19 patients increase, the health system anticipates a temporary increased need for staffing in a multitude of areas across the health system. Qualified furloughed employees will be offered these temporary positions at their normal rate of pay.

Full-time employees will continue to receive their health insurance benefits with the health system paying the full cost of such premiums during the furlough. This includes family coverage if they elected that at annual benefit enrollment. Employees may use their accrued paid time off.

“The continuation of health insurance will ensure our furloughed employees and their covered family members can continue their medications and seek medical care when necessary without financial burden,” said Nagowski. “We want them to stay healthy and safe during this difficult time. We look forward to welcoming each one back to the Cape Fear Valley family once this pandemic subsides and we are able to open all our services to full capacity.”

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