LewisGale announces sweeping changes to protect staff amid COVID-19 pandemic

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SALEM, Va. (WFXR) — LewisGale Regional Health System announced Friday sweeping changes in an effort to protect its staff during the coronavirus pandemic.

According to hospital officials, LewisGale Regional Health System facilities — including LewisGale Hospital Alleghany, LewisGale Hospital Montgomery, LewisGale Hospital Pulaski, and LewisGale Medical Center – have experienced a decline in surgery and outpatient volume due to the coronavirus and led to reduced hours for many staff members. In response, LewisGale’s parent company, HCA Healthcare, announced a new Pandemic Pay Continuation Policy to protect the financial security of caregivers on the front-lines.

LewisGale says it will attempt to redeploy staff with reduced hours who work in clinical positions or support areas, but those who cannot be redeployed will receive 70 percent of base pay for up to seven weeks until HCA Healthcare has a better grasp on the long-term implications of COVID-19 on the organization.

In addition, LewisGale says those working in patient care facilities who are quarantined per CDC guidelines will receive 100 percent of their base pay for scheduled hours, no matter where the exposure took place. Furthermore, HCA Healthcare colleagues not working in a patient care facility but end up quarantined per CDC guidelines will be eligible for short-term disability while they are ill, hospital officials say.

Each of LewisGale’s facilities will provide scrub laundering to prevent those caring for coronavirus patients from potentially carrying the virus home on their clothing, according to hospital officials. LewisGale says that HCA Healthcare is also working with major hotel chains to provide free housing for caregivers concerned about going home after taking care of COVID-19 patients.

According to LewisGale, these new policies come in addition to numerous benefits and programs already in place, such as options for child or elder care, free Doctors on Demand telemedicine, HCA Hope Fund grants for colleagues with financial needs, and emotional support and counseling services.

“This pandemic is unique, and our colleagues’ concerns are real,” says Lance Jones, LewisGale Market President. “We sincerely appreciate all our colleagues are doing and want them to know that we will care like family, and stand with them. If we are to emerge stronger, more resilient and more capable to meet our region’s healthcare challenges, we recognize that this cannot happen without supporting all of our colleagues in these trying times.”

In addition, HCA Healthcare announced that its senior leadership team will take a 30 percent cut in pay until the pandemic passes. For example, hospital officials say HCA Healthcare CEO Sam Hazen will donate his entire paycheck for eight weeks to the HCA Hope Fund while HCA Healthcare’s Board of Directors waives their cash compensation for the rest of the year so the company can contribute more funds to the HCA Hope Fund.

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