ELMIRA, N.Y. (WENY) – Friday, Arnot Health announced furloughs of clinical and non-clinical staff in both inpatient and outpatient areas across the company's entire system. 

Contrasting from a layoff, a furlough is an "unpaid leave of absence in which is expected to be for a temporary period". 

In a statement, officials say following the New York State mandate requiring hospitals to suspend almost all routine, non-emergent care to minimize the risk of spreading COVID-19, and to free up beds to respond to the virus, Arnot Health's revenues have been “reduced by approximately 50 percent”. 

Officials say the mandatory service reduction has helped control the spread of the coronavirus and enabled Arnot Health to enhance its COVID-19 surge capacity care. However, they say the reduction in revenue has “made it impossible for Arnot Health to afford the cost of current staffing levels in all but the essential areas at this time”. 

 “As leaders of organizations comprised of such talented, dedicated, and compassionate professionals, this is the most painful decision hospital boards and management teams now must make,” said Jonathan Lawrence, Arnot Health President and CEO. “It is of no consolation that so many other facilities are now forced to take similar measures. However, this action is essential to safeguard our organization?s viability and to preserve the future of our mission. Arnot is working with our elected officials and state healthcare association to ensure that our voice is heard as legislation is developed to ease the devastating financial impact of this crisis on our people and our organization.” 

Arnot Health employees were reportedly informed yesterday that the organization is starting the process of determining which positions will be furloughed. Officials say affected employees will be told no later than Friday, April 17. Furloughed employees will reportedly be called back to work based on "patient volumes should they increase due to COVID-19 patients or other critical needs”. 

Furloughed employees will keep their current health benefits for up to six months and Arnot Health says it will continue to pay the employee portion of the premium. Additionally, officials say most, if not all, affected employees will also qualify for unemployment benefits. 

“We are also establishing a "COVID-19 Employee Relief Fund" through the Arnot Health Foundation,” Lawrence said. “As we are all in this together, my family and I will be making a leadership-level gift to inspire others in the organization, and throughout our community, to support our colleagues.”