Claxton-Hepburn places 69 employees on ‘unpaid leave’

Claxton-Hepburn places 69 employees on ‘unpaid leave’
Claxton-Hepburn Medical Center (Source: WWNY)

OGDENSBURG, N.Y. (WWNY) - Jobs at a north country hospital are the latest victim of COVID-19.

Claxton-Hepburn Hospital in Ogdensburg announced late Friday afternoon that 69 employees are on unpaid leave.

That’s 69 out of 850 employees total, the hospital said in a statement. The layoffs took effect in late March, but were only acknowledged publicly Friday.

A hospital official said a wide variety of jobs, including physical therapy, are affected.

What’s causing it? The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in “a dramatic erosion of patient volumes and demand across nearly every segment of the operation,” according to the statement.

In general, fewer people are going to hospitals across the state, and the Cuomo administration has ordered a temporary halt to all elective surgeries.

Claxton-Hepburn officials don’t know how long the unpaid leave will last.

“At this time, we are not sure when we will be returning to normal operations," said Richard Duvall, CEO and President of the hospital.

“In the interim, we plan to move employees to meet new areas of need. It may be necessary for some staff to serve in a different role to best serve our patients," Duvall said in the statement.

“We want to keep as many people working as we can. Call-backs to work are anticipated as post-pandemic operations commence.”

Claxton-Hepburn noted in its statement that it is not eligible for the federal Payroll Relief program, which provides money to businesses to keep employees working. That leaves the hospital "along with many other healthcare organizations, in a fiscal bind.

“We continue to engage with various agencies, but the ineligibility requires us to enact solutions impacting the workforce,” again, from the statement.

Claxton-Hepburn joins Oswego Health, which announced earlier this week it is laying off 25 percent of its workforce.

Copyright 2020 WWNY. All rights reserved.