MAINE, USA — Central Maine Healthcare announced Wednesday it will furlough approximately 300 staffers, or just less than 10 percent of its workforce, to ensure stabilized finances as it prepares for a surge in patients battling the coronavirus.

The furloughs, which take effect on April 12, aim to allow the health system to better manage cash flow in the face of the COVID-19 outbreak.

According to Central Maine Healthcare, a large number of the furloughed staffers volunteered for the leave, which includes continued health insurance and is not expected to last more than 90 days. In some cases the leaves may be much shorter in duration. 

Officials said the furloughs impact nearly every department of the health system, which employs about 3,000 people at its hospitals, clinics, and provider practices.

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To protect the health and safety of patients, staff and the community, Central Maine Healthcare rescheduled elective procedures, surgeries and clinic appointments, which led to steep drops in revenue. Time-limited cost-saving measures, including furloughs, will make a big difference in helping the system stay on an even keel, system officials said.

“We deeply appreciate and are grateful for the sacrifices of our team members at this difficult time,” Jeffrey L. Brickman, FACHE, CEO and President, said. “Healthcare organizations everywhere are seeing an immediate economic impact of this pandemic. We needed to act prudently now, to ensure our viability going forward and our growth in a post-COVID future.”

System officials stressed that the furloughs will not affect Central Maine Healthcare’s ability to provide care. Officials said many of the furloughed staffers work in nonclinical areas or support roles.

In addition to the furloughs, cost-saving measures include several temporary practice consolidations or reduced hours. Central Maine Healthcare officials said senior executives, including the CEO, are taking pay cuts for the duration of the crisis, and other leaders are deferring some compensation.

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