Novemeber 4, 2021
TO:All Faculty, Staff and Students
FROM:Dr. LouAnn Woodward, Vice Chancellor for Health Affairs
SUBJECT: Workforce Compensation Plan
The last two years have been the toughest I have experienced in my career in medicine. Stress and strain at previously unimaginable levels have been placed on everyone who works in health care. But even in the face of this, you stepped up in so many ways. Your devotion to our missions – our students, the advancement of science, and especially our patients - has been, and continues to be, inspiring.
Right now, patient demand for our services is very high. We have returned to and even exceed pre-pandemic patient volumes. I am relieved to report that this, along with strong operational management, has resulted in us closing the first quarter of this fiscal year ahead of budget. This good news is a result of everyone’s hard work. The improving situation on the COVID front is also good news.
However, in all areas of health care, including here, across the state and nation, the situation around staffing and workforce is dire. We have lost staff – including nurses and respiratory therapists – due to a number of reasons over the course of the pandemic. Some of the factors that have led to our staffing shortage include:
The factors are not unique to us, they are local and national trends. But knowing we are not in this predicament alone doesn’t make our current reality any less painful. In order to maintain the current staff-to-patient ratios we are committed to, we have had to begin restricting hours in some critical patient care areas and decreasing the number of available staffed beds in our hospitals.
Closing beds and reducing hours for patient care units and procedural areas will have a negative impact on access to care and a negative financial impact for the organization. We feel it is imperative to continue our commitment to the safest and best possible patient care and to invest in our workforce for both our short- and long-term success. I have said many times that our most valuable resource is you – the staff and faculty who make this engine run. Those of you who are committed to our missions make UMMC the very special place it is. In the last 24 months, we have made staff compensation investments to base pay (market adjustments, hiring scale) for non-exempt employees of approximately $19 million as well as $34 million in premium pay, including overtime. While we have made significant investments in our workforce during these challenging times, more is needed.
To that end, I’d like to share with you a multi-faceted plan to further invest in our workforce. This plan includes a number of elements with effective dates that range between now and early 2022.
The elements of the plan include:
On top of the steps and actions I have already laid out, we commit to maintaining a strong financial picture for the Medical Center so that performance-based and market-driven compensation actions will be regular and budgeted items.
The multi-faceted plan I described above has been developed with the input of many leaders. I am very appreciative to all who have participated. A task force consisting of Britt Crewse, Dr. Guy Giesecke, Dodie McElmurray, Jason Zimmerman, Molly Brasfield, Dr. Jonathan Wilson, Dr. Alan Jones, Dr. Brian Rutledge, Dr. George Russell, and myself developed the working components of the plan.
You will note, in addition to my signature on this memo, there are signatures of other members of the Executive Leadership team. Their signatures signify support for these actions.
We realize we may see a negative financial impact as a result of reduction of available staffed beds and reduced hours of operation in some areas of our clinical enterprise. DESPITE that, we have decided to take the calculated risk and move forward with this investment. In addition, we commit to you that we will not engage in reductions in force or layoffs this spring as a solution to rectify any negative budget variance that may occur due to limitations of clinical services as a result of our staffing shortages. We fully realize, as an organization, we may have to weather a rough patch for the short-term in order to move the organization forward toward a brighter and stronger future. But I am confident that all of us, together, can do this. After all, we are #UMMCStrong.