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Scott G Winterton, KSL, File


MountainStar Healthcare staff can be redeployed to make up hours amid COVID-19 pandemic

By Graham Dudley and Lauren Bennett, KSL.com | Updated - Apr. 3, 2020 at 9:45 p.m. | Posted - Apr. 3, 2020 at 6:19 p.m.



COTTONWOOD HEIGHTS — MountainStar Healthcare announced Friday that members of its workforce with reduced hours will have the option to redeploy to other areas of need as the COVID-19 pandemic has changed the landscape of hospital demand.

The change impacts all hourly employees in MountainStar Healthcare’s eight hospitals across Utah — namely nurses, caregivers and other hourly staff. MountainStar is part of HCA Healthcare.

Hourly workers who are able to be temporarily redeployed to different areas of need will receive 100% of their pay for any hours actually worked and 70% of their pay to make up for lost hours not worked.

HCA CEO Sam Hazen said in a letter to employees this week that the company has seen a decrease in patient volume.

"We have experienced significant drops in patient volume as a result of COVID-19," Hazen wrote. "These circumstances have created situations where we do not have enough patients to support our workforce."

If an employee is unable to reach their normal hours in their new position, they will be paid 70% of their normal rate for those extra hours, MountainStar Healthcare associate vice president of marketing and communications Mike Graul explained.

For example, if an employee usually works 40 hours per week but is only able to log 32 hours at their new assignment, they will still be paid for those remaining eight unworked hours, but at 70% their normal pay rate.

Any employee working in a clinical facility with reduced hours who wants to be redeployed can do so, Graul said. However, if there is not an area for them to move to, the company will pay them at 70% their normal rate for hours they are not working.

“Our whole goal is to get them their full hours,” Graul said.

It will be a case-by-case basis whether or not these employees end up working directly with positive COVID-19 patients, Graul noted.

This is an “unprecedented time” that requires “all hands on deck,” he added.

There are no benefit changes to any employees for MountainStar Healthcare.

For those working closely with positive COVID-19 patients, the company has partnered with hotels in the area to provide free housing for these caregivers, Graul said.

Staying at a hotel is not mandatory, but an additional option given to those on the frontlines of the pandemic.

Scrub laundering will be made available to prevent carrying the virus home on clothing.

Anyone working in a patient care facility who is quarantined per CDC guidelines will be paid 100% of their base pay for scheduled hours, the statement reads.

Those who are quarantined and do not work in a patient care facility will be eligible for short-term disability while they are sick.

Hazen said the pandemic pay schedule will last for up to seven weeks, until mid-May, at which point he hopes patient volume will have increased again.

“This pandemic is unique, and our colleagues’ concerns are real,” said Greg Angle, president of MountainStar Healthcare, in a statement. “We want them to know that we care like family, and stand with them. If we are to emerge stronger, more resilient and more capable to meet our nation’s healthcare challenges, we recognize that this cannot happen without supporting all of our colleagues in these trying times.”

The only employees taking pay cuts are those in senior level positions at HCA Healthcare, who will take a 30% decrease in pay until the pandemic is over.

Additionally, the company's board of directors will waive its cash compensation for the remainder of the year.

Hazen is also donating 100% of his paycheck for eight weeks to the HCA Hope Fund, an employee-run charity nonprofit.

"Many companies have had to use furloughs or even layoffs to deal with the dire economic consequences caused by this pandemic," Hazen wrote. "We are not in that financial position and hope to avoid having to take these measures. We value you and the incredible commitment, care, and compassion you provide our patients."

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Clarification: This article has been updated to reflect that employees facing patient shortages will be redeployed and able to continue working; if an employee is unable to reach their normal hours in their new position, they will be paid 70% of their normal rate for those extra hours. An earlier version reported only that some MountainStar Healthcare employees would face pay reductions for hours worked.

Graham Dudley
Lauren Bennett

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