Council members sad about Denver Well being’s government bonuses — from $29,000 to greater than $230,000

Council members sad about Denver Well being’s government bonuses — from $29,000 to greater than $230,000

Denver Metropolis Council members have gotten more and more vocal about their issues with Denver Well being management following latest revelations that the quasi-public company gave high executives lots of of hundreds of {dollars} in bonuses.

“When these entities want to give you information that makes them look good, they will,” mentioned Lisa Calderón, spokesperson for Councilwoman Candi CdeBaca, informed The Denver Put up on Tuesday. “When there’s information that the public wants to know, that they know may not portray these entities in the best light, then the council doesn’t get that information voluntarily.”

Denver Well being, like most hospitals, is struggling financially because it responds to the coronavirus pandemic, and has requested all staff — together with frontline employees — to take paid break day, cut back hours or take voluntary furloughs.

Calderón mentioned she and CdeBaca met with hospital Chief Government Officer Robin Wittenstein only a week earlier than the information of the bonuses emerged and particularly requested how lower-wage hospital employees might be protected as a lot as potential throughout the monetary disaster.

Wittenstein talked about neither the furloughs nor the bonuses, Calderón mentioned. “She had her opportunity to disclose, and she failed to do so.”

“I think that omission resulted in a breach of trust after we found out about the bonuses,” she added later in a textual content message.

A Denver Well being spokesperson mentioned the chief has been in contact with council members repeatedly.

“Robin Wittenstein as well as other leadership have maintained communication over the last several months in regards to Denver Health’s response to COVID-19,” the spokesperson mentioned in an e mail when requested concerning the CdeBaca assembly. “Mostly recently, Robin has been in communication with council members since the story broke last week.”

CdeBaca and Councilman Chris Hinds blocked a last-minute vote Monday to just accept $38.6 million from FEMA for Denver Well being and different Denver businesses, delaying the vote for every week.

Hinds mentioned he had questions on each the grant settlement and the well being system that hadn’t been answered. The councilman mentioned he requested Denver Well being officers concerning the bonuses and furloughs Friday and nonetheless hadn’t heard again Tuesday.

“I’m not opposed to people getting bonuses,” he mentioned. “I’m opposed to them getting bonuses at the same time other people get pay cuts.”

Councilman Kevin Flynn didn’t oppose Monday night time’s vote however he, too, has questions, reminiscent of whether or not hospital executives are a part of the Denver Worker Retirement Program and whether or not these bonuses would inflate their pensions. In that case, different metropolis staff would primarily be compelled to subsidize these government pensions, he mentioned.

“Denver Health can expect that the next budget cycle that we’re going to have a talk about a number of issues,” Flynn mentioned.

Of Denver Well being’s $1.1 billion working finances, $56 million comes from town of Denver. That cash consists of $30.7 million to offer well being care to uninsured sufferers within the county and $25.three million for companies, reminiscent of look after inmates on the metropolis jail and public well being companies, in keeping with paperwork from the hospital.

Extra about these bonuses 

On April 10, not less than 12 Denver Well being executives acquired bonuses, starting from greater than $29,000 to greater than $230,000, in keeping with knowledge obtained by The Put up.

The bonuses, which have been first reported by CBS4, got here as Denver Well being staff have been requested to voluntarily take paid break day or go away with out pay. To date, there have been no layoffs at Denver Well being.

Comparable steps are occurring at hospitals throughout the state as well being techniques take a monetary hit from the cancellation or delay of elective surgical procedures and different companies — a transfer geared toward releasing up mattress house and gear for sufferers with COVID-19, the respiratory illness attributable to the brand new coronavirus.

Wittenstein acquired the biggest bonus, getting $230,275 on high of her $967,155 base wage.

She was adopted by Connie Value, chief medical officer, and Peggy Burnette, chief monetary officer. Value acquired greater than $95,000 as a bonus along with a base wage of $507,200, whereas Burnette acquired greater than $93,000 on high of her $530,600 wage, in keeping with compensation knowledge offered by Denver Well being.

On Monday, Wittenstein apologized to Denver Well being staff concerning the bonuses in a letter to employees.

“Being informed of incentive payments now to the executive staff, no matter what the explanation, has clearly been painful and dividing, especially because you did not hear about this from me directly first,” she wrote. “For this, I am deeply sorry.”

Within the letter, Wittenstein mentioned a big portion of executives’ wage is taken into account “at risk,” which means that they obtain a base pay after which earn a specific amount on high of that if Denver Well being achieves its finances and targets annually. If the hospital doesn’t hit the targets, then executives don’t obtain the funds.

Wittenstein wrote that the bonuses weren’t paid in two of the previous 4 years. Denver Well being’s management staff as an entire can be chopping its hours, and subsequently pay, by 12%, she mentioned.

As of April 20, Wittenstein is utilizing paid break day as an alternative of her common wage to “save” Denver Well being two days of her common wage throughout every 10-day pay interval. She can be waiving her capability to accrue paid break day, in keeping with Denver Well being.

She has pledged $100,000 to the Denver Well being Basis, which has an worker reduction fund, and the primary cost was made in December, in keeping with her letter to employees.

Regardless of his concern concerning the bonuses, Hinds fell in need of characterizing the connection between Denver Well being and the council as an issue. That challenge is only one knowledge level, he mentioned.

“If this data point becomes the pattern, that’s a problem,” he mentioned.

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