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Labette Health’s administration team has agreed to reduce its pay indefinitely and donate paid time off to the hospital as a way to free up cash so the hospital can better respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Hospital CEO Brian Williams announced the action Wednesday afternoon in an email.

“The administrative team is reducing their pay 20%, suspending any pending bonuses and donating 80 hours each of PTO to Labette Health,” Williams wrote. “Reducing our salaries and bonuses allows an immediate cash savings to ensure that our staff can be paid. The donation of PTO will help us in the future as we will need cash flow and earnings to work ourselves out of this COVID-19 pandemic.”

Williams estimated that the salary reduction would provide an annual savings of $345,000 that the hospital can use to pay staff.

“The PTO being donated will save money in the future months when we begin our recovery,” Williams told the Sun.

He wrote that in an earlier email he promised staff that administration would be transparent through the pandemic response.

“I also mentioned that this would require sacrifice. Each of you are the most important asset and resource that we have, so to that end we are focusing on ways that we can ensure the preservation and continuation of compensation for this entire team,” Williams wrote in announcing the administrative salary reduction.

Williams also shared information with the public about the COVID-19 pandemic and the public’s response to it in other countries. He said the hospital’s medical executive committee and administration reviewed publications, research and guidance and made the following recommendations:

— In other countries with more experience than the United States, the group learned that social distancing and hand hygiene were effective at flattening the spread of the virus.

— Social distancing includes avoiding any public gathering places where several people congregate and interact within less than 6 feet. Please avoid all non-essential gatherings of people including being within 6 feet of anyone for longer than 10 minutes.

— Be sure if you cough or sneeze to cover your nose and mouth with a tissue, discard the tissue in a secure area and immediately wash your hands for 20 seconds with warm water and soap before touching anything or anyone.

— If you must go to work, be vigilant to not share items with co-workers, be within 6 feet of co-workers and wash your hands frequently.

— Please call ahead to your health care provider’s office if you have a temperature of 100.4 degrees or greater and lower respiratory symptoms including cough or shortness of breath.

— Please abide by any quarantine orders put in place by the Labette County Health Department. For example, Labette County is under a 14-day self-quarantine order for anyone who has traveled to any of the following areas on or after March 15: Johnson County, California, Florida, New York and Washington state, Eagle, Summit, Pitkin and Gunnison counties in Colorado. The order applies to those who have been on a river cruise or cruise ship and those who have traveled internationally. This week the department added travel to Illinois and New Jersey on or after Monday.

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