Region 8 hospitals work to get front-line bonus pay back to employees

Region 8 hospitals work to get front-line bonus pay back to employees

JONESBORO, Ark. (KAIT) - Money promised to front-line workers from the state is slowly showing up on pay stubs.

“We did learn late yesterday afternoon, that we are now receiving money for our hospital employees, and so they’re going to get that very, very quickly,” Vice-President of Human Services at St. Bernards Hospital Lori Smith said.

Smith says as soon as that money is sent over, it can be seen on the next paycheck for employees and for those working in the hospital that can be as soon as Thursday, July 2.

However, she says those working in long-term care such as residential care facilities started to see those funds last month.

This is a program approved by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and the guidelines of who receives the funds and how the process will work are being handled by the Department of Human Services.

While the announcement was made mid-April, workers will receive retroactive pay from April 5 to May 30.

According to Smith, those working in long term support services, funds have been extended to June 30.

Smith says she is happy to be one of the states who are offering this pay to those who deserve it.

“For us, we are very appreciative of this program and not all the states are offering this so we have a huge thank you to our governor and others and state leadership that worked hard to get this bonus money approved so that we can pass it on to our employees because it’s like you said, it’s been a rough year and so anything that we can do to help relieve some of that stress, we definitely want what to offer and they happen,” Smith said.

Smith says 2020 has been tough and St. Bernards just wants to say “thank you to our staff, and to everyone regardless as to what their position is not all of our positions are eligible for this bonus program but that doesn’t mean that we value anyone any differently.”

Region 8 News reached out to three other hospitals in the area to learn more about how the process is working for them. Their statements can be seen below starting with NEA Baptist.

Our employees have begun to see payments from the CARES ACT. This is on a state dependent timeline as the state approves the data submitted by our team according to the criteria specified by the state. The Arkansas Department of Human Services then sends the funds for employees which they deem approved, and NEA Baptist direct deposits 100% of the money received to those employees. This disbursement occurs on the Fridays opposite of the regular pay schedule after the money is received from the state.
NEA Baptist

NEA Baptist says that “all of their team members are essential to the continuum of care that patients in this region receive regardless of whether or not they were made eligible by the state’s program.”

They say they “believe in the mission of healing, preaching, and teaching, and their employees have exemplified this mission time and again through the selflessness of their work.”

NEA Baptist is working to provide opportunities for assistance through Employee Assistance Funds (one created specifically for COVID-19 and funded by executives and other donors), and other programs they have enacted to help all team members through this pandemic.

And over 70 miles away, White River Medical Center front-line workers have not received that pay and the hospital says they are waiting on the distribution from the Arkansas Department of Human Services.

White River Health System applied for direct payments to eligible healthcare workers on behalf of our employees. We are working closely with the Arkansas Department of Human Services (DHS). We will disburse funds to eligible employees as quickly as possible after DHS distributes the funds. We understand delays are frustrating. During these unprecedented times, the process of assistance, like the Pandemic Unemployment System is new and has taken time to bring online.
White River Medical Center

White River Medical Center also says they have received a notification that their application is being processed. The notification didn’t include specific dates for the distribution of funding.

Arkansas Methodist Medical Center also responded to Region 8 with this response regarding bonus pay for some essential workers.

“Arkansas Methodist Medical Center (AMMC) employees are frontline heroes during this pandemic. Our community has shown tremendous support by providing meals, donating masks and participating in our recent Heroes’ Day Celebration. AMMC is following state and federal guidelines in regards to employee financial assistance programs. We have not had any issues with this process and will continue to provide support for our employees.”
Barry Davis, President and CEO AMMC.

All hospitals agree this is a fluid process and they will work to get those funds to their employees as soon as they are available.

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