Mohawk Valley Health System is not immune to staff reduction requirements in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis.

As a result of Governor Cuomo's order to reduce non-essential staff, several nurses and other employees are having to take time off. MVHS Chief Physician Executive Dr. Kent Hall spoke on the topic during an interview with 'First News with Keeler in the Morning.'

"Our plan is in compliance with the governor's mandate that all 'non-essential' staff stay home," said Dr. Hall. He also said, "We have developed a way for them to work from home if at all possible and we have developed ways for staff to continue to get paychecks."

Unfortunately, the staff that has been reduced is needing to use paid-time off, but for those that have limited time there are options. Dr. Hall strongly pushed back on the claim that these are layoffs. Dr. Hall says, "It is not a layoff. People are using paid time off and we've modified policies to allow people to use other options." hey can actually go negative into paid-time off

One option established by MVHS is a bank or pool of paid-time off from other staff members. Dr. Hall says, "For people that may have unused or unneeded paid time off, they can put that into a pool and it can be disbursed to other staff members in need of it."

So, what makes a nurse essential? A letter acquired by WIBX from MVHS to staff members defines what they have determined to be "essential." The letter states,

The priority order of essential health care services: 1) life saving, 2) limb saving, 3) health improving or 4) quality of life. Our decision about the services we provide will follow these priorities and therefore may change based on the status of the pandemic in our community.

Other staff that is essential may not include medical professionals. The same letter states that, "For example, food service, environmental services, and admissions are essential positions that must be done on site."

The system is preparing for the future and the possible increase in patients impacted by COVID-19. The letter states, "We are working on a surge plan to be able to ramp up quickly to be prepared to deal with the prediction of a significant demand for inpatient care."

On the topic Dr. Kent Hall says, "We're planning on an extensive retraining process to allow for them [staff] to work in the hospital, stay safe, and help out if necessary."

Governor Cuomo announced Tuesday the need for 140,000 hospital beds and 30,000 ventilators. The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases has topped 25,000 in New York State and growing daily.

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