Bert Nash to lay off staff, reduce salaries because of financial issues related to COVID-19

photo by: Ashley Hocking/Journal-World File Photo

This file photo from January 2018 shows a brightly colored bench and mural at the second-floor entrance, where administrative offices and services for children and families are housed, at Bert Nash Community Mental Health Center, 200 Maine St.

Updated 8:39 p.m. on Thursday

The Bert Nash Community Mental Health Center will cut its employees’ salaries and lay off some workers in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Though the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) provided a bridge for the community mental health center, cuts must be made to keep the organization sustainable, President and CEO Patrick Schmitz announced in a news release on Thursday. Schmitz wrote in an email to the Journal-World that Bert Nash qualified for $1.7 million through the PPP.

“We will use nearly all of the funds for payroll expenses and hope to have most of it forgiven,” he wrote.

Despite this, effective July 4, 15 positions will be eliminated. Nine of these positions were either open or anticipated to be open in the coming weeks, Schmitz said. The other six positions will result in lost jobs. Affected employees will be paid through the end of the current pay cycle and will be able to keep their health insurance until the end of July. The release also stated that those losing employment who provide direct client care will be able to help clients transition to new providers.

“Despite these reductions, there will be no reduction in client services or limits to access to services to the community, and we will do everything we can to help ease this difficult transition,” the release stated.

Effective July 5, employees of Bert Nash will receive a reduction in salary or wages for the following six months. The chief executive team will have an 8% reduction; program directors, medical doctors and midlevel providers will have a 6% reduction; program managers will have a 5% reduction; program supervisors will have a 4% reduction; and all other staff will have a 1% reduction.

“As your community mental health center, we know we are an essential provider and must navigate through challenging times in order to remain available to our community to assist our fellow citizens in their time of need,” the release stated. “These decisions are designed to keep us open and providing services well into the future and to allow us to weather this present turbulence.”

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