Hospital board OKs wage increases

CPGH Inc. to raise nonunionized employee paychecks 2 to 13 percent

Posted: Sunday, January 05, 2003

Central Peninsula General Hospital employees can look forward to more money in their pockets for the new year.

The CPGH Inc. board of directors, the governing body for the nonprofit organization that manages the Kenai Peninsula Borough-owned hospital, unanimously approved a resolution to raise hospital wages at a special board meeting Tuesday morning.

The increase -- ranging from 2 to 13 percent, depending on the position -- will go into effect Jan. 19 for all nonunionized employees.

Hospital chief executive officer David Gilbreath pointed to the 13-percent wage bump nurses received as part of the first year of a three-year contract signed last month, saying hospital staff needed equal treatment. He said another reason for the increase was to level CPGH pay with statewide hospital wage averages.

"After the negotiations were completed, it left nonunionized employees with nothing," Gilbreath said. "This is a way to build equity and let them know that we care about them, and a way to get them up to parity with the rest of the state."

According to reports from CPGH and the Alaska State Hospital and Nursing Home Association, while statewide health care wage rates increased an average of 5.2 percent per year over the last two years, CPGH wage rates only have increased an average of 2.5 to 3 percent per year.

These raises come less than a month after the hospital received its first negative independent financial report in six years, showing more than $2.4 million in lost operating revenues at the close of fiscal year 2002 in June. Gilbreath said the move was to reduce turnover, thereby cutting expenses.

"We're hoping it will increase staff satisfaction," he said, noting increased staff retention would reduce recruitment and training costs.

Total raises add up to about $438,000, which would increase the hospital's fiscal year 2003 operating budget by about $219,000 for the remainder of the reporting period. That is about 1.3 percent of the total $17.2 million operating budget, which was revised to accommodate the changes, according to hospital controller Mike Haggerty.

Wage increases were the only change to the budget, and Haggerty said CPGH administration is exploring ways to trim expenses and increase revenue in light of the budgetary revision.

Haggerty said the hospital is trying to increase the services it provides, which meant recruiting more physicians -- in particular, more general surgeons.

"We're really hoping to continue to look at our costs and maintain and improve productivity," he said. "We are looking at ways to keep people on the peninsula for their health care services."

Gilbreath contended that by filling needed positions in the hospital's medical staff, the increased activity could bring in more revenue to help offset recruiting and training expenses, as well as higher wages.

"We're hoping it will help us increase patient revenue," Gilbreath said.

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