Posted on March 15, 2013 at 5:43 AM
“We’ll just have to work a little harder. The mission doesn’t change.”
That was Colonel Donald Goode’s response to the possibility of civilian furloughs being implemented at Joint Base Lewis-McChord. That includes Madigan Army Medical Center, where the colonel runs the pharmacy department. His mostly-civilian staff fills about 4,500 prescriptions and hospital medical orders every day.
Everyone on the base knows there could be some big workforce changes coming if the so-called “sequestration furloughs” take effect. More than 16,000 civilians work at JBLM, near Tacoma, checking IDs at entry gates, running the library system, keeping steam boilers running, coordinating firing-range assignments, running the wastewater treatment plant and doing just about anything you might expect needs to be done in what is essentially a city of nearly 50,000 soldiers and airmen.
Most are ex-military; almost all could be facing a furlough system, which could cut their pay by 20-percent. Base commanders underline that no final furlough system has been approved, but one of the possibilities is that civilian employees could be forced to take every Friday off, without pay, from late April through the end of September.
At Madigan, Colonel Dallas Homas released a statement saying that if sequestration does take effect and furloughs are implemented, the hospital will seek special exemptions for critical patient-care staff.
“At no time will safety in our care be compromised,” said Homas.
Base Commanders expect to announce final plans for trimming the civilian workforce before the end of this month.