Owensboro Health Provides Employment Stability
During a global pandemic and a nation-wide unemployment crisis, Owensboro’s largest employer, Owensboro Health, has managed to keep each of its 4,300 employees on the payroll. Owensboro is the only city in the nation where the unemployment rate hasn't risen over the past year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and the health system is proud to play its part in that success.
When COVID-19 reached the area in March, Owensboro Health started preparing to accept the bulk of coronavirus patients in the area. Having a newly-built facility allowed Owensboro Health Regional Hospital to convert regular patient rooms to negative pressure rooms, which are needed for the safe treatment of infected patients. Most hospitals in our rural region do not have that ability, forcing them to transfer COVID positive patients to Owensboro.
As the health system prepared for a surge of coronavirus cases, many departments were required to close temporarily for non-emergent procedures. Instead of furloughing or laying off employees from those departments and clinics, the administration took another approach -- reassignment. Employees shifted from their normal positions and acted as screeners at hospital entrances, helped patients keep in contact with their families when visitors were not allowed, took positions as groundskeepers and more. They also went into businesses in the community and checked employees for symptoms as they came into work, helping other companies stay open safely.
Owensboro Health President and CEO Greg Strahan said the decision not to let anyone go was made because employees depend on their paycheck, particularly at a time when their spouses may have been laid off from their own jobs. During April and May, Owensboro Health saw a 65 percent cut in revenue, but no employee missed a paycheck and they also received their annual bonus early to help quell worries in an uncertain time.
Keeping all the team members employed also meant the hospital could return to normal operations faster, as soon as it was safe to do so.
“Our success is a tribute to our people’s willingness to do things they weren’t really expecting to do,” said Strahan. “There's resilience in our staff and I couldn’t be more proud of our team.”