Hospital cancels employee raises
Will revisit issue in May or June
Clinical Officer Pam Cipriano urged Medical
Center employees at a jam-packed town hall meeting Monday
to remain upbeat in the face of can-
let this blind you, she said, emphasizing the importance
of the center staying solvent. We dont want to get
into the position of not being able to buy operating room equipment.
were told last week in a Jan. 10 letter signed by William E. Nick
Carter, senior vice president of operations, that planned pay
increases were canceled because of the hospitals financial
meetings were scheduled to discuss the moves, and employees took
full advantage. The first meeting, held Monday night in the 65-seat
Camp Heart Auditorium, drew a standing-room-only crowd, with people
lining the walls, sitting on the risers and standing in the hall.
employees said the announcement, included with pay slips, contributed
to poor morale, but Cipriano reminded them that other institutions
were looking at layoffs and red ink. She said the Medical Centers
management team which has authority over employee compensation
under the hospitals codified autonomy rules had to
strike a balance. This is the best decision we could have
made, Cipriano said.
faculty and classified employees in the state system did not receive
raises this year. Outgoing Gov. Jim Gilmore included a 2 percent
salary increase in his proposed budget for next year, but its
prospects are uncertain as legislators and Gilmores successor,
Mark Warner, face a $1.2 billion shortfall in the current fiscal
Medical Center had an operating margin of revenues over expenses
of just 0.6 percent considerably less than the 5.9 percent
budgeted for July through November 2001, according to figures
presented by Larry Fitzgerald, the Health Systems associate
vice president of finance.
admissions for that period, though 2 to 3 percent over the previous
year, were 635 fewer than were anticipated in this years
budget. While this brought the hospital a $1.4 million operating
margin, it is $13.4 million less than expected. Labor and benefit
costs were $4.9 million over budget.
employee complained that with hikes in insurance premiums, she
was drawing less take-home pay now. Another, from the Newborn
Intensive Care Unit, said she thought eliminating raises sent
a negative message, since many employees were doing the work of
two people. She urged Medical Center officials to reinstate the
raises as soon as possible.
who said canceling the raises was a measure not taken lightly,
told employees the issue would not be revisited until May or June
unless there is a remarkable turnaround. He said he
wants to be sure the hospitals recovery is on solid footing
before committing to the additional expense.
acknowledged that an increase in outpatient services would create
more work for less money, explaining that some reimbursements
the amount of money insurance companies will pay for services
rendered had changed. Selected Medicare rates, for example,
have dropped 5 percent in the past year.
factors contribute to decreasing morale, employees said. Heavy
workloads leave some employees unable to take lunch breaks, they
said, and rumors were circulating of temporary nurses making more
money than staff members.
urged employees not to react to rumors. While she acknowledged
that the hospital offered incentives to entice temporary nurses
to take more undesirable shifts, she said there is less dependence
on them now, and with flexible scheduling, she can bring in only
the workers she needs on a shift.
asked about early retirement incentives, but Carter said this
would have to be acted upon by the governor and the General Assembly.
also was concern about space. One employee said she worked with
a doctor whose specialty could bring in more patients, but she
was not sure if there would be adequate room for them. Carter
said there are several efforts under way to open more space for
town hall meeting will be the first in a series between hospital
staff and management, said Cipriano, who added that hospital managers
plan to spend more time on the floors meeting with employees.
reviewed points from the Health Systems strategic plan and
said he wanted the Medical Center to reflect the values of respect,
integrity, stewardship and excellence. He said delaying raises,
while a difficult decision, was an example of stewardship and
managing resources responsibly.