Barton employees are told to take time off
Barton Health this week notified its employees that they will take one week off per month through the end of the year to help stabilize the budget. Part-time employees will take an equivalent number of days off in a month to the number of days they work in a week.
The extra days off apply to employees including managers, directors, vice presidents and administrators, according to a statement from Barton on Thursday.
Most employees who are involved directly with patient care will not be affected, to “continue a positive patient care experience,” Barton said in the statement. Barton officials did not provide exact numbers of employees who will be asked to take time off, or those who will not.
Barton has always “flexed” staff time to adjust to patient loads, especially with the seasonality of the South Shore resort community, health care system officials said in the statement. Flexing staff time – sending people home early when things are slow or calling in staff when things are busy – is a practice long used by hospitals around the country.
Employees already subject to flex time – for example, in-patient medical surgical unit nurses – will not be asked to take the week off per month, said Barton spokeswoman Denise Sloan Smart.
Barton is not regarding the time off as “furloughs,” which is commonly thought of as forced time off without pay. Many employees taking the extra days off will use paid vacation time or sick days to keep their paychecks at their previous levels, according to Barton.
The amount of savings from the week-off-per-month wasn’t immediately known. Although many workers will still be paid for the time off, the move will help Barton’s “bottom line,” as the accrued vacation or sick leave is on the books as a debt, Sloan Smart said.
This year has been especially tough for tourism, which in turn, forces Barton to look at overhead for additional cost savings, officials said.
In March, 43 employees were laid off due to decreased patient counts, a reduction of about 4 percent of Barton’s workforce.
“This summer we’ve seen a further decrease in total patient stays, plus our number of uninsured patients has increased by more than 50 percent,” said Barton Chief Financial Officer Dick Derby. Uninsured patients pay an average of 10 cents to 20 cents on the dollar for their care.
“Our numbers reflect what’s happening with other community hospitals across the nation,” Derby said.
County, state and federal medical reimbursements are also down significantly.
“It is prudent that Barton take steps to ensure our longevity in the community both as a vital health care provider and as a strong employer, and we will not be cutting medical services at this time,” Derby said.
Even after the March lay-offs, Barton’s patient satisfaction scores increased in all eight categories, hospital officials said. California Hospital Assessment Reporting Task Force (CHART) scores compare more than 240 California hospitals by patient evaluations of their hospital experience. See http://www.calhospitalcompare.org or http://www.bartonhealth.org.
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