Metro Health employees volunteer for 12-week furlough

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Metro Health – University of Michigan Health says it has offered employees to be considered for a 12-week voluntary furlough program as COVID-19 impacts health care systems around the country.

In a statement, Metro Health says it will cover the full cost of elected and group health benefits for the employees taking a leave of absence. Officials are in the process of approving those leaves, which will be effective Sunday.

The health care system says it will need to make additional staffing changes in the weeks to come, which are expected to include furloughs, position eliminations and other adjustments. It’s anticipated to affect 10% of Metro Health’s employed workforce.

In addition, Metro Health executive leadership is taking an up to 40% pay cut starting this month. It will also not be making its annual discretionary contribution to employee retirement plans for this year, which typically takes place in the spring.

Metro Health and other hospitals across the state have been forced to lay off employees because of efforts meant to combat coronavirus. They stopped nonurgent procedures, which account for the bulk of their revenue, to make sure there were enough beds and personal protection equipment available in the event of a surge and to further limit interaction to slow the spread of the virus.

With the number of cases stabilizing, many hospitals are moving this week to resume some elective procedures, with state officials saying doctors have discretion to decide what should go forward.