WINCHESTER — Valley Health has extended the Paycheck Protection Plan it enacted in April to provide a guaranteed income to employees during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The initiative had been set to expire on July 25, but will now remain in effect through the end of the year.

According to a Valley Health media release, the Winchester-based health care provider implemented the Paycheck Protection Plan (PPP) in mid-April as a preemptive response to coronavirus-related declines in outpatient care, diagnostic testing and elective procedures. If necessary, the system will dip into its financial reserves to make sure employees continue to receive a paycheck during the pandemic rather than being laid off or furloughed.

“Our initial commitment to the PPP initiative was for 90 days, and I’m proud to say that during this time, hundreds of our associates were able to maintain at least 70% of their pay and continued benefit coverage,” Valley Health President and CEO Mark Nantz said in the release.

Valley Health employs more than 6,000 associates, hundreds of whom experienced a reduction in work hours due to facility closures and operational changes caused by COVID-19. While the scope of Valley Health’s day-to-day operations have not yet returned to normal, most full- and part-time associates have resumed regular work schedules, and the immediate need for the PPP has significantly decreased, the release states.

“Acknowledging lingering uncertainty about the course of the virus in the months ahead, our leadership team and trustees are committed to guaranteeing each associate a minimum of 70% of their regular pay should there be a reduction in hours related to COVID-19,” Nantz said in the release. “Our priority is to remain strong and resilient, with our workforce intact, prepared to safeguard the health of our community.”

Valley Health is a not-for-profit enterprise that operates six hospitals — Winchester Medical Center in Winchester, Warren Memorial Hospital in Front Royal, Shenandoah Memorial Hospital in Woodstock, Page Memorial Hospital in Luray, Hampshire Memorial Hospital in Romney, West Virginia, and War Memorial Hospital in Berkeley Springs, West Virginia — as well as Urgent Care clinics, diagnostic centers, physician practices, medical transport services and a retail pharmacy. It serves a population of 500,000 people in northwest Virginia, the Eastern Panhandle of West Virginia and southwest Maryland.

For more information, visit valleyhealthlink.com.