Freeman delivers update, speaks to KOAM about furloughs

Freeman Hospital In Joplin, Missouri Provides Update On Their Covid 19 Call Center

JOPLIN, Mo. – Freeman Health System speaks to KOAM about furloughs after the Joplin hospital’s daily briefing related to COVID-19.

CEO and President of Freeman Health System Paula Baker started today’s briefing with an update on screenings and COVID-19 patients. She says the number of callers to be screened was down a bit compared to previous weeks. Since last week, there have been no new positive cases of COVID-19 at Freeman.

In total, Freeman has had seven confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus. Baker says five of those patients recovered at home from the beginning. Two patients were hospitalized, one has since went home.

After the daily briefing, Baker spoke with KOAM about furloughs. She said they are not anticipating any layoffs, but are furloughing some staff, allowing them to take paid time off.

Baker says “We will be looking at that department by department, obviously all essential staff will remain here always, but there may be some clinic settings or other applications within the health system where it’s a good opportunity for people to have some time off.”

Baker says volumes are down outside of the COVID-19 situation, because they’re not doing as many surgeries. Outpatient visits are also down. Due to those lower volumes, they’ll be asking some employees to take time off. Baker adds that the furloughs will be very temporary.

Baker says “This is a time when volumes are down considerably, we’re not doing the elective surgeries, outpatient visits are down, we’re doing a lot of telehealth and telemedicine, so it’s a good opportunity for people to take a little time off, we anticipate this will be very temporary.”

Freeman will not be furloughing any physicians right now or making changes to their contracts, according to Baker, although some physicians that don’t directly provide emergency services have elected to take paid time off. The hospital is still providing emergency services.

Hospital officials are evaluating which areas of the hospital it makes sense to ask employees to take some time off. Baker says all essential staff will stay at the hospital. She says benefits will remain during the furloughs, adding that most people will take advantage of their accrued time off.

Officials are still developing the plan so they don’t know how many employees will be impacted yet.

(Related: Ascension hospitals to protect employee pay in COVID-19 related situations, Mercy joins other health systems in furloughs, paid time off)