- Associated Press - Wednesday, April 1, 2020

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - Bon Secours Mercy Health will place staff not directly supporting work on COVID-19 response on furlough without pay for up to three months, the system announced.

The health system also said it was suspending hiring for any positions not directly impacting its response to COVID-19.

In an email to staff, Bon Secours CEO John Starcher said that a recent projection estimates that the health system will have operating losses of more than $100 million a month as a result of the impact of COVID-19, including the cancellation of elective surgeries and primary care services, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reported.

The total number of furloughed employees includes 700 total full-time equivalents across seven states and 12 markets, which is less than 1% of the 51-hospital system’s total workforce of 60,000, the newspaper reported, citing Bon Secours.

The furlough is expected to last between 30 days and 90 days, according to Bon Secours. Employees will first collect paid time off until it runs out. After that, they will be eligible for unemployment benefits, the statement said. The health system’s foundation also has a $60 million emergency fund to help those employees who face serious financial challenges.

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