Hospital Execs Get Bonus While Cutting Staff Pay

I literally brought this issue up last week in the this blog entry. My concern was with a future bailout but this news item proves that didn’t need to happen:

On April 3, Denver Health CEO Robin Wittenstein emailed hospital workers noting “the current situation will stress us financially.”

She announced a hiring freeze and asked employees to voluntarily take leave without pay, use personal time off or reduce their normal work week.

“The goal is to reduce our total salary expense without the need to lay off employees or implement mandatory PTO/furloughs,” wrote Wittenstein.

She said the hospital was also considering mandating workers to use their paid time off, mandatory leave without pay and other steps.

“The goal is to avoid these extreme measures if at all possible,” she wrote.

One week later, on April 10, Wittenstein and her executive staff saw their 2019 Management Incentive Plan bonuses deposited into their bank accounts. They had been notified in late March that this would occur.

This may be the perfect example of HOW NOT TO LEAD! How much bonus did the admins get? From $50,000 up to $230,000. This was based on their 2019 work so that has to be taken into consideration, I guess.

Then we get this line from the CEO:

“We want to try to pay people fairly,” said Wittenstein. ”Those incentives are what keeps people at the midpoint of the compensation range,” she said, as compared to colleagues around the country.

She said without the bonus payments, Denver Health executives would be paid less than the average for their counterparts nationwide.

And now you know how their salaries and bonuses keep going up and up. They just keep trying to help each other out.

Your thoughts?

(Editor’s Note: See followup post here)

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Douglas Farrago MD

Douglas Farrago MD is a full-time practicing family doc in Forest, Va. He started Forest Direct Primary Care where he takes no insurance and bills patients a monthly fee. He is board certified in the specialty of Family Practice. He is the inventor of a product called the Knee Saver which is currently in the Baseball Hall of Fame. The Knee Saver and its knock-offs are worn by many major league baseball catchers. He is also the inventor of the CryoHelmet used by athletes for head injuries as well as migraine sufferers. Dr. Farrago is the author of four books, two of which are the top two most popular DPC books. From 2001 – 2011, Dr. Farrago was the editor and creator of the Placebo Journal which ran for 10 full years. Described as the Mad Magazine for doctors, he and the Placebo Journal were featured in the Washington Post, US News and World Report, the AP, and the NY Times. Dr. Farrago is also the editor of the blog Authentic Medicine which was born out of concern about where the direction of healthcare is heading and the belief that the wrong people are in charge. This blog has been going daily for more than 15 years Article about Dr. Farrago in Doximity Email Dr. Farrago – [email protected]

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16 Responses

  1. John Hunter says:

    The US healthcare system is rottened by a lot parasites, such as the shameless adminstrators.

  2. GGJ,md,ms says:

    hmmm…Hospitals make no direct patient-care reimbursement $$$ without docs’ signatures…admission/lab/imaging/procedures/surgeries/discharge/other orders; they hound the docs for delinquent signatures for mnths, to the point of threatening & blocking docs from seeing patients; in truth hospitals make no $$$ without docs/ancillary staff, even if full to capacity.
    Bonuses are more appropriate for ancillary staff/docs.

  3. Mmcassim MD says:

    It bring tears to my eyes to see bad behaviors from CEO of the hospitals
    Raking $$$ while poor joe is having a hard time
    Poor leadership

  4. Matthew Ackert says:

    They should be fired.
    Hospital administration salaries need a reset. Now.
    There are plenty of physicians and nurses who could do a better job and I’m sure there are many young , talented, jobseeking recent graduates who would gladly work for more reasonable salaries

  5. Paul says:

    If this doesn’t convince people of the need for physician unionization the medical profession is finished..

  6. L. J. Sloss, M.D. says:

    Very well said, Joe. Unfortunately, these people have no shame receptors and would consider the noise coming from the grunts to be nothing worse than poorly articulated compliments for their neatly executed self-aggrandizement.
    (PS: great nom de plume!)

  7. Drazen Jukic MD, PhD says:

    For a while now, the administrative arm of healthcare has considered itself untouchable … This is yet another test. Unless there is a backlash in her hospital, nothing will happen.

  8. Joe Smegma, DO says:

    CEO Wittenstein makes me want to puke. “we want to try to pay people fairly”. It is such a wonderful sound bite!! She and her cronies will be paid handsomely. Shame, shame, shame. They know in their hearts they are screwing their workers who support their hospitals, doctors, nurses and patients. They got their bonuses! Damn straight! In the name of competitive saleries on a national or regional scale, I’ve had this argument with multiple CEO’s at different hospitals. The argument is the same…“we must pay premium salaries to get the talented administrators“. When it comes to physicians….”this community is underserved and provincial, salaries will be much lower than the national average”. . I’m not making this up, it is happening! Administrator salaries are in keeping with the best in the country. Shame, shame, shame. Way to go Wittenstein! Lead from the back. Take your bonus and screw everyone who supports you. How do you sleep at night? Sadly she is one of many who occupy her CEO position , making major cutting measures and decision making for large hospital systems. Rewarded for the bottom line. Period. They are all interchangeable and replaceable. They actually circulate through different health care systems after they “solve the problems of a given hospital system by cutting them to the bone”. Once they show a positive revenue stream and bottom line they become marketable as a “health system guru or problem solver”. The secret is they just ruthlessly cut the system to the bone. Firing doctors, nurses (some with over 30 years of service to said hospital, billing departments , therapists, lab techs, etc). Gone Baby Gone! Then, they get their fee and a feather in their cap. Then, they move on in the wake of destruction they left In the community (which they could give a shit about). Congratulations! Shame, Shame, Shame.

  9. arthur gindin says:

    I hope you sent a copy to Ms Wittenstein!

  10. LJ Sloss MD says:

    “All animals are equal, but pigs are more equal”
    George Orwell, Animal Farm

  11. Pat says:

    Maybe the saddest thing is that this isn’t even surprising.

  12. Celia Entwistle says:

    Greed sloth and avarice on full display. Physicians there should sit in and not move. But we have become sheeple. Where is the NEJM article on administrators!. Oh yes. It has never been written

  13. PW says:

    I’m sure this is great for morale at that hospital.

  14. Dave says:

    Shouldn’t their performance in making sure there were adequate amounts of PPE available (which should have taken place in 2019!) be taken into account?

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