Some Northeast Florida hospitals cutting back hours after order from Gov. DeSantis

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Hospitals across Northeast Florida are cutting back hours for health care workers after Florida Gov. Ron Desantis ordered hospitals to stop non-essential surgeries until further notice during the coronavirus pandemic.

The staffing changes come on the heels of hospitals enacting sweeping visitor restrictions to limit the spread of COVID-19.

Baptist Health and Ascension Florida both confirm they’ve had to reduce and eliminate hours for health care workers in light of changes related to the novel coronavirus.

“The executive order postponing elective surgeries goes hand-in-hand with there being fewer patients in the hospital, because fewer procedures means fewer patients,” Baptist Health said in a statement.

Baptist Health employs approximately 12,000 team members, 97% of whom are able to continue working during this time, according to figures released by the hospital.

In a statement to News4Jax, a Baptist Health spokesperson said:

“Our goal is to maintain employment for all of our team members, which is why we are encouraging those whose jobs have been impacted to join our Labor Pool, which offers opportunities to be trained and reassigned to different areas within the Baptist Health system.”

Similarly, Ascension St. Vincent’s said it’s working to re-assign employees who had their hours cut because of a decrease in volume at the hospital.

The Ascension Florida released a statement saying, in part, "Associates unable to work solely due to decreased volumes or similar work-related circumstances beyond their control are still being compensated and receiving all associated benefits, and we are working to identify potential opportunities for them to continue to actively serve our organization in other capacities wherever possible. We continue to assess this on a case-by-case basis.”

Ascension said it is also evaluating employees who are temporarily unable to work because of possible or confirmed exposure to COVID-19 on a case-by-case basis.

“We’re doing everything we can to assist associates who are temporarily unable to work due to possible or confirmed exposure to COVID-19, following guidelines from the CDC and the Florida Department of Health. These associates are evaluated based on their individual situations and are handled on a case-by-case basis depending on the circumstances. We are providing pay continuation for associates who are quarantined due to workplace exposure and addressing through worker’s compensation as appropriate,” said Ascension Florida in a statement to News4Jax.

A spokesperson for Ascension Florida said employees who are unable to work still have benefits associated with their employment.

The Executive Director of the Florida Nursing Association said she’s not sure yet how many hospitals are experiencing a reduction in hours, but said she’s heard from nurses who are being moved to work in different departments.

“Some people said they were closing their unit, but they are going to work somewhere else,” said Executive Director Willa Fuller. “There is usually, in a hospital, somewhere else you can fill, and they will re-orient you and retrain you to work somewhere else. I know a little bit of that is happening just from the few I have heard from, but I don’t know wholesale what’s happening across the state with that.”

News4Jax also reached out to UF Health Jacksonville who did not respond to our inquiry with details on their staffing changes at the time of publication.

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