Furloughs, other temporary changes at MetroWest Medical Center

Susan Manning Staff Writer
Issue Date: 
May, 2020
Article Body: 

It’s hard to look around and find anyone who has not been affected by the coronavirus pandemic — including local hospitals.
At MetroWest Medical Center, changes to visitor policies, offerings of virtual medical appointments and furloughs have all been announced.
“MetroWest Medical Center’s furloughs are not targeted toward nursing. I cannot give you a number,” said Rhiana Sherwood, MetroWest Medical Center spokesperson.
In a statement released by the hospital group:
“We remain on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic, working together with our Metro West community to see this through. With a stay-at-home advisory and government restrictions on elective procedures, some hospital services – which are not related to the COVID-19 crisis or other critical patient care needs – have been closed or ramped down. We have taken steps to redirect additional resources to COVID-19 care and other urgent medical procedures that cannot be deferred. This includes reducing costs and implementing furloughs for certain jobs where activity has been limited due to the current environment.
“We are providing all furloughed employees with medical benefits support consistent with their elections and at no cost to them, covering the employee and employer contributions of premiums for medical, employee/spouse critical illness and supplemental life during this time. While we have postponed the annual funding of our 401(k) match until later in the year, we are providing furloughed employees with the match now so they can have that resource available in the near term. In addition, we are offering information to impacted employees so that they may access salary protection through enhanced state unemployment benefits that are available to them. For many roles, these benefits could provide eligible individuals with a significant majority of their income as a replacement.
“Our expectation is that we can return impacted staff to service once we navigate through this unprecedented time and can return to providing our full range of patient care services. These actions do not impact direct bedside nursing care for COVID-19 and do not impact emergency or medically necessary care access for patients with other medical conditions. We remain appropriately staffed to provide our full support to treat patients in the Metro West Area and prepare for a potential surge.”
But not everything has changed.
“People who need emergency care still go to the Emergency Room like any other day,” said Sherwood.
The visitor policy change is one that hits those who oftentimes need support the most: inpatients. To alleviate some of the stress associated with the inability to have loved ones visit, the hospital offers a few options.
Friends and family can communicate with patients via video chat; in fact, these “visits” are encouraged. Also available are Care Cards. These cards can be found on the MWMC website. All you need to do is enter the patients name and message, hit send and your well wishes will be on their way.
And let’s not limit the well wishes to the patients. Hospital staff loves getting words of support via its Facebook page. On that page, MWMC says, “We are grateful for the outpouring of support for our hospital teams, especially during the COVID-19 outbreak. Many people ask us, ‘What can we do to help?’ Your words of encouragement mean so much.”
If you think you might have become infected with the coronavirus, but don’t want to venture out without having a better idea, take the COVID-19 assessment on its website. If your assessment comes back questionable, you can schedule an online appointment to find out your next steps..
To that end, you don’t need COVID-19 to qualify for a telehealth appointment. If staying at home is your preference, you can now get a diagnosis and care plan as long as you have a mobile device with the camera. Since the outbreak of the coronavirus, more and more Insurance companies have started to cover virtual doctors visits, including Medicare.
For more information on any of the services at the Framingham Union or Leonard Morse campus of the MetroWest Medical Center, visit its website at mwmc.com.