CoxHealth, Mercy Find Ways To Help Employees Impacted By Service Closures

Apr 13, 2020

Empty Hospital Bed
Credit (a) artwork / Flickr

Two Springfield hospitals are finding ways to help their employees who have been impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.

Mercy and CoxHealth are just two hospitals in Missouri and across the nation that have had to restrict or end non-emergency services and elective surgeries. 

Some employees impacted by those changes have been redeployed to other areas, according to a news release from Mercy.  But the health system has support programs for those that can’t be reassigned.

The COVID-19 Furlough Pay program, provides up to 80 hours of pay to employees who may be impacted due to a temporary lack of work during the pandemic.   It has also set up a co-worker paid time off or PTO bank.  Employees affected by service closures can draw on the bank once they’ve exhausted their available PTO, and their co-workers can donate to the fund. 

Cynthia Bentzen-Mercer, executive vice president and chief administrative officer at Mercy, said they "learned many lessons about helping our co-workers in their time of need after the devastating Joplin tornado in 2011."  She hopes the two programs "offer some peace of mind to co-workers affected by canceled and reduced services due to COVID-19."  Bentzen-Mercer and other leaders have donated all of their paid time off to the PTO bank.

Similar things are happening at Cox Health.

CoxHealth president/CEO, Steve Edwards, said they’re repurposing a lot of employees.  For example, some “highly skilled” employees, he said, are taking people’s temperature as they enter the hospital. 

According to Edwards, the CoxHealth Board of Directors put an extra $2.7 million into an extended earned time off or ETO bank for anyone that tests positive for COVID-19 or is sent home because of the virus.  And it started a $1 million Heroes Fund that’s now up to around $1.1 million for healthcare workers impacted by the pandemic.