I have heard your concerns about the recent distribution of the 2019 incentive payments to executives and know that this news has had a significant negative impact on our organization. I am deeply sorry. Denver Health’s staff and providers are among the best health care team I have ever worked with and could ever hope for, and yet, this has caused you hurt and anger. You come to work every day, caring for our patients, putting yourself and your families at risk. Every day, our team goes above and beyond to provide care for the most vulnerable people in our community, even in these difficult circumstances. 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. For this, I am deeply sorry.
I want to personally address your anger and frustration, knowing that I will be able to provide information that may satisfy some, but not all your concerns. I also want to acknowledge that people are working hard, in an incredibly stressful time, taking care of patients while taking risks and making sure Denver Health can continue to do what we do best – being there for our community. The emotional toll that this has taken on staff, providers and their families is enormous.
When it comes to compensation, we have the same approach for every person at Denver Health. We base salaries on salary surveys, local and national, with the goal of paying our employees fairly, targeting the middle of the total compensation range for each person. For staff, we make market adjustments each January if the salary surveys show this is needed. Additionally, we set a merit increase rate that employees will get on their anniversary date.
The only difference for MIP eligible leaders is that while we set total compensation targets at the middle of their salary range, a large portion of each eligible leader’s salary is “at-risk.” This means that they will receive a base compensation and only earn the “at risk” amount, up to the 50th percentile from the salary surveys, if the organization achieves its budget and the organization hits the goals we set each year.If we do not hit the budgeted operating goal, there is no “at-risk” payment and the eligible leader will end up with a salary below the middle of the compensation range. MIP is not a bonus in the common understanding of the term. I believe this at risk approach is appropriate for leadership – if the organization is not performing the way we need it to, they simply will not make as much. In fact, the incentive payments were not made in 2 of the last 4 years.
You have been asked to make sacrifices.Everyone on the executive staff understands they have a responsibility to make their own contribution to help sustain Denver Health. The leadership group as a whole has reducing their hours/pay by 12%, contributing over $550,000 in salary back to Denver Health and donating $386,000 to the Foundation for the employee relief fund. My own personal commitment is the equivalent of a 30% salary reduction, with a $100,000 pledge to the Foundation. These funds will help employees get through difficult times by providing mortgage assistance, bill payment, childcare payment, etc.Further information on and instructions for the employee relief fund will be shared this week.We also have an employee loan program, with loans of up to $1,000, guaranteed by Denver Health. My own personal donation to the Foundation was directed to underwrite the cost of interest for these loans, to further help.
I know these answers will not heal all the raw emotion and wounds that were created. It is deeply hurtful to me to think that we have, at this critical moment, experienced such a situation. Again, I am truly sorry for the anger, frustration and pain it caused each of you and hope you accept my apology.
Robin D. Wittenstein, EdD, FACHE
Chief Executive Officer