Holy Cross-Ups pay off in times of crisis | Companies

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Most hospitals in the US are under tremendous financial pressure due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

In addition to the many thousands of dollars invested in personal protective equipment, devices to help infected patients breathe, facility changes, and cut elective services that increase revenue, Holy Cross Medical Center joined other hospitals this week by adding offered additional pay to its employees whose own health is at risk when testing and treating patients from the coronavirus.

Holy Cross chief executive officer Bill Patten announced on Monday (13. The wage increase will only affect working hours, he clarified, which means workers who go on sick leave or leave will receive their normal wages At the end of the eight periods he will reassess the situation and can extend the difference.

The cost is estimated at $ 400,000, “an amount Holy Cross cannot afford,” said Patten, “especially given the lower volumes and revenue.”

Failure to increase employee pay during the pandemic, however, could prove to be even more costly, Patten adds.

“The assessment we made was that while we can’t afford it today, in the long run we can’t afford not to,” he said. “If our employees were to leave, we would have to bring in additional travelers, and travelers are currently becoming even more expensive because of the salaries that are offered in the hot-spot.” Cities. “

According to NurseFly, a nurse job board, pay for traveling nurses has skyrocketed, more than doubling in some cases. The pay for traveling nurses – also known as deputies in the medical world – is up to $ 6,000 per week in New York, one of the areas hardest hit by the virus.

“So when we asked ourselves, ‘How can we show our current employees that we value them while trying to control our costs?’ It seemed like the right thing, “said Patten.

Eleanor Chavez, executive director of District 1199NM, the union that represents workers at Holy Cross and four other hospitals in the state, speculates that Patten is likely concerned that hospital workers might seek employment at the Presbyterian Española Hospital; Several nurses went there when Holy Cross had a severe financial shortage in late 2017 and 2018.

Chavez made a distinction between the temporary pay raise Patten signed up to and the “hazard pay”, which she believes remains part of a larger negotiation they asked the hospital for, and which Patten refused last month.

“The one that was rejected wanted to talk about a variety of different topics that we believe were strictly defined as management rights in the contract we negotiated,” said Patten. “And that was part of our rationale by saying, ‘No, just because we were in the middle of a pandemic doesn’t mean the rights that they’d agreed to and that management has should suddenly be lost.'”

As with other hospitals, Patten and his executives have their hands full adjusting to the pandemic.

Patient volumes have fallen sharply, both for fear of exposure in a facility that was eliminated by Wednesday (15 to further reduce risk.

As of Wednesday, a few weeks before the projected spike in COVID-19 cases in New Mexico, the cost of Holy Cross already appears to be substantial.

“We think we’re going to lose at least 40 percent of our normal earnings, and I think 40 percent is likely conservative,” said Patten. “It wouldn’t surprise me that when we all have numbers it will be a much higher number.”

Patten and his finance team were interviewed last year about the hospital’s need for future public tax breaks. Critics argued that the hospital hadn’t even used around $ 2 million of the $ 5 million collected from a hospital-approved mill tax in 2016.

Patten argued that he needed to create a cash reserve in case the hospital might someday run into a situation where it might need it. He said he hoped those who questioned this need will see the cost of the pandemic as a good example of why it was necessary.

But even with mill levies in reserve, Patten said the hospital tries not to touch them while they look for other means of financial assistance.

Holy Cross received approximately $ 7 million federal loan that can be repaid without any strings attached within a specified timeframe. However, if the deadline is not met, the interest starts at 10.25 percent.

Add to that a roughly $ 4.8 million Small Business Association loan and a one-time grant of $ 800,000, and Patten says the hospital’s cash register is ironically its best in a long time.

“We have tried to prepare a reserve so that we have the money to survive for the rest of April and into May, when our bills are just off the table,” he said.

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