Frontline workers are taking pay cuts and being furloughed while hospital CEOs keep their seven-figure salaries

Frontline workers who care for critically ill coronavirus patients are now taking pay cuts and going without paid time off while the hospital executives continue to make seven-figure salaries.

The pay cuts are meant to offset lost revenue from fewer elective and lucrative procedures that have been postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic, The Daily Beast reported.

In Denver, executives at Denver Health got April bonuses between $50,000 and $230,000, while doctors, nurses, and other personnel were asked to work fewer hours or take unpaid time off to reduce costs. 

In an April 3 email, CEO Robin Wittenstein said the policy, along with a hiring freeze, was meant to “reduce our total salary expense without the need to lay off employees or implement mandatory PTO/furloughs.”

Stanford Health Care system has taken a similar approach, asking its workers to take 20% pay cuts for 10 weeks starting on April 27, Palo Alto Online reported. In response, 16 employees wrote a letter to executives and called the pay cuts “extremely disrespectful.”

“Stanford Health Care is now turning its back on front-line health care workers and refusing to acknowledge our input when it comes to furloughs. Your refusal to work collaboratively and negotiate is extremely disrespectful to all of us who have been coming to work every day, often without proper protection, putting our lives at risk to care for patients,” they wrote.

Healthcare workers don’t understand why hospital executives won’t cut their own salaries, or take larger pay cuts, in order to support first responders who are risking their lives every day, according to the Daily Beast report.

At McLaren Health Care in Michigan, executives said they’ll take 2% pay cuts and furlough 1,500 workers to save money, but some employees said that’s not enough. According to local news outlet WYXZ Detroit, at least six McLaren executives make about $1 million.

“These people are making millions of dollars and they’re going to give 2 percent back?” Jeff Morawski, a registered nurse at McLaren Macomb, told The Daily Beast. “I think it’s a joke. I think it’s a slap in the face… They’re not walking into the hospital every day as a frontline worker.”

In the Stanford Health Care letter, employees highlighted how the pay cuts could push frontline workers into personal financial instability.

“You’ve presented your furlough plan as a ‘shared sacrifice’ as if this extreme measure has the same impact on the CEO who makes over $3 million/year and a housekeeper or a nursing assistant who struggle to pay rent and feed our family in the Silicon Valley on $60,000 or $70,000 a year,” the employees wrote. “This shows a stark lack of empathy and understanding for the reality of our lives.”

In an email to Insider, Julie Greicius, the senior director of external communications at Stanford Health Care, said employees have the option to take pay cuts or “use paid time off incrementally over the 10-week period with the option to go into a negative PTO balance as necessary,” and can pay back the remaining balance at a future date.

“At present, over 99% of all our employees have chosen to use the PTO option,” Greicius said.

Denver Health and McLaren Health Care did not immediately respond to Business Insider’s request for comment.

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