LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Baptist Health announced a series of furloughs and pay cuts Thursday morning the company says were caused by the financial strain and shortage of resources created by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The company says it's implementing a series of "temporary unpaid furloughs." Those furloughs affect the company's eight-hospital system, the Baptist Health Medical Group and its corporate headquarters.

According to a news release, the furloughs were announced to all employees on Thursday and affect regular full-time and part-time employees "in jobs that do not support caregivers or are not critical to clinical operations related to COVID-19."

The company says the number of employees affected has not been finalized. Furloughed workers will be eligible for unemployment compensation, and remain eligible for their medical benefits. Some will have a reduced work schedule while others will not have any job responsibilities with their furlough.

Additionally, the company says "top leaders" with Baptist Health and the Baptist Health Medical Group will take a 20 percent pay cut. This includes system C-suite members and hospital presidents. Other vice presidents and executive leaders will receive a 15 percent pay cut.

The decision was made after elective surgeries and diagnostic tests were suspended as part of government efforts to curtail the spread of the virus. 

"Like other hospitals across the country, Baptist Health is striking a delicate balance between maintaining a strong front line of skilled caregivers to battle the COVID-19 pandemic, while grappling with the drain on resources," said Gerard Colman, chief executive of Baptist Health, in a statement. "After much thoughtful deliberation, we are re-prioritizing and reassigning some staff to serve where needed most, which is at the bedside providing patient care, and in our communities identifying those at risk for COVID-19."

"Our intent is to return to normal operations as soon as possible, and begin calling back employees," Colman added. "This is just a temporary measure. We value our employees, who are the key to our success, and will continue to be the key to our success going forward. But first and foremost, we need to ensure we will be here when our communities need us most."

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