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Cookeville Medical Center furloughs 400 employees amid pandemic

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Posted at 7:23 AM, Apr 07, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-07 13:54:16-04

COOKEVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF)  — Cookeville Regional Medical Center in Putnam County has announced furloughs in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Approximately 400 of the medical center’s 2,400 employees will be temporarily furloughed and several hundred employees will see a temporary reduction in hours.

The hospital says furloughed employees will continue to receive full healthcare benefits with CRMC paying 100% of premiums for medical insurance.

Right now, the hospital is treating five COVID-19 patients. Three employees have also tested positive and are in self-isolation at home.

The hospital said it’s reducing patient volume for two reasons: to slow the spread of the virus and to prepare for a high surge in patients. They said the layoffs will primarily affect administrative and non-clinical areas and PRN staff.

Employees will be called back to work as needed when the hospital begins to see a surge of COVID-19 patients.

Cookeville Regional is just one of many hospitals that’s reduced its employees because of the coronavirus pandemic. Click here to read more.

“We want the community to know that we are prepared for a high surge of patients when it comes,” states Paul Korth, CRMC CEO. “You may be asking why we are reducing workforce at a time like this and the reason is simple. We must preserve our financial resources now in order to direct more of them to fighting the COVID-19 pandemic. We have seen a significant reduction in revenues while we are not doing elective surgeries and procedures, and we must be good financial stewards for the hospital’s long-term success. Our community expects us to preserve our hospital for the long-term. We are doing everything we can to also look after our employees, both in the short-term and the long-term. When we begin receiving a large number of COVID-19 patients, we will be able to call staff back in and be able to care for them.”

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What is COVID-19 (a.k.a. the new coronavirus?)

According to the World Health Organization, coronaviruses (CoV) are a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases. Examples include the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV). A novel coronavirus (nCoV) is a new strain that has not been previously identified in humans. COVID-19 stands for "Coronavirus disease 2019," which is when this strain of the coronavirus was discovered.

What are the symptoms?

The CDC says patients confirmed to have the 2019-nCoV reportedly had mild to severe respiratory illness with:

  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing

Or at least two of the following symptoms:

  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Repeated shaking with chills
  • Muscle pain
  • Headache
  • Sore throat
  • New loss of taste or smell

At this time, the CDC believes symptoms could appear as soon as two days after exposure, or as long as 14 days.

Prevention

The CDC is recommending "common sense" measures such as:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a cloth face cover when around others.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.