Fenway Health To Furlough Staff Amid COVID-19 Crisis

fenway healthFenway Health

Just about every organization, including Fenway Health, changing in response to coronavirus

BOSTON—Today, Fenway Health announced that it will furlough staff this week in response to the impact that the COVID-19 crisis is having on its business operations.

“This is not something we are doing lightly. But Fenway Health is not immune to the economic forces affecting every health care system in the state in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis,” said Fenway Health CEO Ellen LaPointe, who is also reducing her compensation for the duration of the crisis. “These measures are temporary. We expect to invite every staff member who has been placed on furlough to return to work when we are able to return to a more normal way of doing business.”

Fenway Health’s dental, optometry, and acupuncture services are now operating below 10 percent of normal volume and medical patient care visits are down significantly. Its biomedical research studies have also been scaled back.

In response to patient and client needs, Fenway Health has implemented a new telehealth system. The technology has enabled any Fenway Health patient with a smartphone, tablet, or computer with video/audio capabilities and a stable internet connection to schedule an appointment to see their clinician from the safety of their own home.

“Providing clinical care via telehealth is an incredibly important addition to our services,” LaPointe said. “We’re able to reach patients and clients now who urgently need our services and telehealth will make it possible for us to scale our services in exciting ways once we return to normal operations. But many clinical services cannot be provided virtually, and our new telehealth services do not come close to offsetting our losses right now.”

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Fenway Health’s CEO, Ellen LaPointe; Photo: Fenway Health

The 70 staff placed on furlough this week will join the 68 staff members who were placed on furlough in March after Fenway Health temporarily closed its Boomerangs thrift stores in Jamaica Plain, the South End, and Central Square, Cambridge, in response to the public health emergency. Furloughed staff will retain health care insurance benefits.

“Although we are operating now in a period of great uncertainty, the one thing we can all count on is that this crisis will pass,” remarked LaPointe. “We are committed to weathering this storm in partnership with our community, and we will work to emerge from this crisis even more resilient and strong to meet the needs of the people we serve going forward.”

Since 1971, Fenway Health has been working to make life healthier for the people in our neighborhoods, the LGBTQIA+ community, people living with HIV/AIDS and the broader population. The Fenway Institute at Fenway Health is an interdisciplinary center for research, training, education and policy development focusing on national and international health issues.

[From a News Release]

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