The 1,500 civilian employees at Dwight D. Eisenhower Army Medical Center could be hit with mandatory furloughs next month as part of budget cuts mandated by sequestration.
If necessary, the furloughs will take effect in late April, according to an e-mail sent to personnel last month by Eisenhower’s commander, Col. Christopher Castle.
“The specific date is not set yet. If it happens, it will apply to all civilian employees; it will last for 22 weeks at one day per week,” Castle said in the Feb. 24 e-mail.
“I want you to know that this comes as unwelcome news for all of us,” Castle said.
Eisenhower spokesman Wes Elliott confirmed that administrators are preparing for furloughs that will affect all civilian employees. He said April 25 has been discussed as a possible start date but that there were many details still being worked out.
“We are still waiting on instructions on how those furloughs will be implemented,” Elliott said.
Congress could come to a budget agreement that will put an end to sequestration before the furloughs are necessary. The sequester – a series of automatic federal government spending cuts totaling about $1.2 trillion over 10 years – kicked in March 1 when Congress could not overcome a budget stalemate.
Elliott said each employee will have to be notified in writing 30 days before furloughs are implemented.
Castle will handle notification of local union representatives, according to his e-mail. Many of the civilian employees at Eisenhower are members of the American Federation of Government Employees, the largest federal employee union, representing about 650,000 government workers around the world.
Elliott said the biggest hurdle is handling all the budget cuts and furloughs without reducing services at the hospital, which sees about 2,500 patients in its clinics each quarter. The hospital also has 93 in-patient beds, which are at about 75 percent of capacity each day, Elliott said.
“We were asked to look at our budgets and find a place where we could make cuts,” he said. “Our big focus is maintaining the mission. We are not cutting back on services.”