Tower Furloughs Workers as Virus Affects Finances

WEST READING PA – The equivalent of 1,000 full-time employees (FTEs) are being furloughed across the Tower Health medical services system, the company said Tuesday (April 21, 2020), affecting those in what it called “support, administrative, and technical areas” as it experiences “a 40- to 50-percent decline in revenue” coupled with higher expenses, both due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Tower’s FTE measurement of the extent of the furlough could mean that more than 1,000 workers, some of them part-timers, may be affected by its temporary job cuts, although Tower Health Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Therese Sucher did not address the issue in a media release.

The statement also did not offer specifics on how, if at all, the furlough would affect operations at Pottstown (at top) and Phoenixville hospitals; its urgent care centers in Douglassville, Gilbertsville, Limerick, and Oaks; or its other facilities or practices in western Montgomery County.

The pandemic has required Tower to suspend non-urgent and elective services, and close outpatient facilities, departments, and clinics. It also postponed internal projects so it could “allocate resources to respond to patient and community needs related to the virus,” it said. Those shifts have increased Tower’s expenses related to the outbreak, it reported, while also cutting its income.

Tower’s not alone, the company added. “Every health system across Pennsylvania and the nation is facing similar challenges,” it said, forcing some to resort to accompanying fiscal actions. “This decision has been extremely difficult,” Sucher wrote, “and we regret that these extraordinary circumstances have forced us to take these measures.”

Tower said it is taking steps to support affected employees. They include:

  • Giving those furloughed access to its internal accrued “earned time off” and “income protection time” programs;
  • Continuing a company benefits plan for those covered by it;
  • Creating a system-wide labor pool in which those laid off will be offered “alternative work assignments based on their experience and skill set, as needs within the organization arise;” and
  • Agreeing not to contest employee applications for unemployment benefits “as long as the employee remains available for recall and does not turn down a work assignment.”

“We do believe this furlough will be temporary and we look forward to the return of regular operations as soon as is safely possible,” Sucher added.

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