Valley Baptist Health System remains on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic, working together with our greater Rio Grande Valley community to see this through.
With shelter-in-place orders and government restrictions on elective procedures, some hospital units – 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 divert additional resources to COVID-19 care and other urgent medical procedures that cannot be deferred. This includes flexing down costs and, unfortunately, implementing temporary furloughs for certain jobs where we need, or are required to, limit activity due to the current environment.
We know that this is hard on our colleagues. As an organization, the health and wellness of our employees is equally paramount, and 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. Additionally, our Tenet Corporate executive team and members of our local leadership teams are donating a portion of their salaries to our employee Care Fund which is available to all employees impacted during this time to apply for grants to offset any financial hardship posed by COVID-19.
Our expectation is that we can return impacted staff to service once we navigate through this unprecedented time and our core business gets back to normal. We want to stress that these necessary 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. Our Valley Baptist hospitals in Brownsville, Harlingen and Weslaco remain appropriately staffed and 100 percent functional and prepared for any potential surges in our community.