The layoffs at Henry Mayo Hospital are understandable, but had the two highest-paid employees cut their pay further, it could have prevented more pay cuts, one nurse alleged.
The hospital announced that starting May 31, all non-union staff would have their salaries cut by 10%. Each staff member also is being furloughed one day a week until May 30. The hospital previously laid off nine management-level employees and several other unnamed staff positions.
The nurse, speaking on condition of anonymity for fear of being fired, said if hospital President/CEO Roger Seaver and Senior Vice President Larry Kidd would just cut their salaries 10% more, it could save 100 non-union employees from having to take a pay cut for three months.
She based that on the following: Seaver and Kidd earned almost a combined $1.5 million, according to the hospital’s 2017 tax forms, the most recent ones available. Ten percent is almost $150,000. The average non-union salary is $15,000 for three months; 10% of that is $1,500, or one-hundredth of $150,000.
“You’re barking up the wrong tree” in requiring this across-the-board pay cut, the nurse said. “Why don’t you ask the top two to take a pay cut to save your employees?”
Hospital spokesman Patrick Moody said he couldn’t confirm that the nurse’s salary numbers were correct because of the time it would take to calculate it. Seaver made it clear during a May 13 employee forum that he wasn’t interested in cutting his salary further. In a YouTube video widely circulated through Henry Mayo but password-protected to the general public, Seaver responded to a question about why he isn’t taking a larger pay cut.
“Why should I do that? My gosh,” Seaver muttered before answering that the dollar amount he is forfeiting is larger than anyone else’s. “I understand your question. I’m not sure I can answer it to your satisfaction,” Seaver said on the video.
Moody said Seaver regrets making that statement during the four-hour forum, and Moody said he regrets that the video has been circulated, which was why it became password-protected.
The nurse also said that a 10% pay cut for an employee making $13 an hour would drop the pay below the state-mandated $12 an hour minimum wage. Moody said all employees would make at least minimum wage.
The nurse said the two unions, the California Nurses Association and the Union of Auxiliary Workers Local 1004, have suffered 94 layoffs, including 35 nurses. Moody said he cannot comment on personnel matters.
The fact remains that the hospital, like so many around the country, is struggling. The nurse said she knows why: People are afraid to go to the hospital out of fear of catching COVID-19 there. She told of a patient who came in suffering from abdominal pain for nine days. It turned out the patient’s appendix had burst; had the patient come sooner, complications could have been averted.
It’s an issue Moody said management is currently addressing. The hospital website’s home page announces that all elective surgeries are once again available, but Moody said it’s going to take time to get the numbers of patients back up to where they were pre-pandemic. Hospitals make about 48 percent of their revenue from these surgeries, according to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. Henry Mayo’s tax form said it brought in about $360 million in non-contribution income in 2017. Forty-eight percent is about $172.5 million.
The nurse said in her department, there are typically at least 15 elective surgeries each week. Now, it’s more like six.
Moody said that next week the hospital would launch a new campaign to try and get people to feel safe enough to come when needed. Called “Safer in Our Care,” it will include banners, social-media posts, print advertising, short videos showing the safety precautions the hospital takes as well as other to-be-determined tactics.
The nurse said she hopes no more jobs will be lost, but it’s an uphill battle.
“I don’t know how to get people to trust the hospital,” she said, adding she’s heard people say nobody has caught the virus inside the hospital, though she can’t verify it herself. “If it’s true, it’s a great testament.”