The state’s largest health care network confirmed Wednesday that the challenges posed by the spread of the coronavirus has forced it to reduce work hours for some of its employees.

MaineHealth, which employs about 22,000 workers and serves 1.1 million people in 11 Maine counties as well as Carroll County, New Hampshire, said the reductions have not led to layoffs or employees being furloughed. MaineHealth operates nine hospitals across the state, including Maine Medical Center in Portland.

“With our pandemic planning we have postponed elective procedures and non-urgent medical appointments, and as result some on our care team have naturally seen their active hours on the job reduced, or in rare cases, have been impacted for all their shifts during the week. In all these cases, team members continue to receive their regular pay and benefits and are not required to use their paid time off,” MaineHealth said in a statement issued Wednesday night. MaineHealth said the number of people impacted by reductions in workload changes daily.

John Porter, MaineHealth’s associate vice president for system communications and public affairs, said Wednesday that he was unable to say how many workers have had their workloads reduced and hoped to be able to provide that information Thursday.

MaineHealth’s preferred policy during the coronavirus crisis has been to reduce employee workloads instead of implementing furloughs or layoffs, Porter said.

He said that any MaineHealth employee who has been sent home for reasons related to COVID-19 will continue to receive their regular pay and benefits and will not be required to use paid time off.

“As our pandemic planning moves forward, we continue to review the qualifications and skills of all our team members, knowing that they are eager to help in any way they can, and we will redeploy people as needed to meet the needs of our patients and communities, which remains our top priority during this public health crisis,” MaineHealth said.

MaineHealth’s network includes Maine Medical Center, Franklin Memorial Hospital in Farmington, LincolnHealth in Damariscotta and Boothbay Harbor, Maine Behaviorial Healthcare in South Portland, Mid Coast-Parkview Health in Brunswick, and Southern Maine Health Care in Biddeford and Sanford.

Central Maine Healthcare announced Wednesday that it will furlough about 300 workers “to ensure stabilized finances as it prepares for a surge in patients battling the coronavirus.” The furloughs impact about 10 percent of Central Maine Healthcare’s workforce and will impact nearly every department in its healthcare system that includes Central Maine Medical Center in Lewiston, Bridgton Hospital and Rumford Hospital.

The state’s rural hospitals and smaller health care organizations have been particularly hard hit by the loss of revenue from not performing nonessential and elective procedures.

Last month, the doctors who own InterMed announced that their health care business would be forced to furlough just over one-third of the company’s workforce to offset the loss of revenue stemming from its decision to stop providing nonessential health care services during the pandemic.

 

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