Relief leaves CMH uncertain

Contributed photoColumbia Memorial Health wants “fair federal and state assistance.”

HUDSON — Columbia Memorial Health temporarily furloughed approximately 125 employees Tuesday from departments that have seen a recent decrease in volume.

These include employees working in physicians’ offices, elective procedures, diagnostic testing, the emergency room and Rapid Care.

With the total number of admissions to the hospital also decreasing, CMH has seen revenue cut nearly in half. Hospitals throughout the region are seeing expenses continue to increase as prices grow for supplies and personal protective equipment.

Also on Tuesday, the Senate passed a $484 billion COVID-19 relief plan that includes aid for hospitals and small businesses, and funds to expand testing.

The measure allocates $75 billion for hospital relief and could go to the House as early as Thursday.

“We are working closely with our trade associations to advocate for fair and meaningful federal and state assistance,” CMH spokesman William Van Slyke said.

State officials said Tuesday that New York will reopen by region, and elective surgeries and procedures will resume in counties without significant risk.

Reopening strategies have not been announced for the Capital or Hudson Valley regions as of Wednesday.

Starting April 28, elective outpatient surgeries and treatments can resume in counties where hospitals have over 25% capacity for the county and that have seen fewer than 10 new COVID-19 hospitalizations within the past 10 days. Patients must test negative for COVID-19 prior to any elective outpatient treatment.

“We’re going to allow it in those hospitals and counties in the state that do not have a COVID issue or we wouldn’t need their beds in case of a surge,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said.

If a hospital or county that resumed elective treatments no longer meets these qualifications, elective treatment will have to cease, according to the governor’s office.

“It is essential that we continue to support hospitals and health care workers in all regions to ensure they have both capacity and supplies to treat COVID patients because this virus is by no means defeated,” Cuomo said.

As of April 21, Columbia County had nine total hospitalizations due to COVID-19, with three of those patients in the intensive care unit.

Van Slyke said CMH will not know whether it qualifies and is able to resume outpatient surgeries until April 28.

Employees who were furloughed could be called back to work with 48 hours’ notice, and it is being assessed on a weekly basis. CMH had not furloughed any employees prior to this, Van Slyke said.

CMH President and CEO Jay Cahalan said Tuesday that the temporary furloughs allow employees to retain health care, while also being eligible to receive enhanced levels of unemployment funds.

Abby Hoover is a reporter for the Register-Star. Contact her at

Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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