Saturday, April 11, 2009

UAB Medical West suspends contributions and reduces sick leave for employees

Medical West is suspending contributions to employees' retirement plans and reducing sick leave time to save money. The hospital also is hiring outside consultants to improve flagging finances, employees were told in a letter mailed Thursday. Rising numbers of uninsured patients and patients delaying care because of their tight budgets have put a strain on hospitals nationwide, Tim Thornton, chief executive officer of the hospital said he could not provide the financial results for 2008 because the audit isn't completed, but the year will likely end with bigger losses than the $2.2 million lost on operations in 2007. Medical West laid off 17 workers last summer and closed 35 open positions. Since then, Physicians Medical Center Carraway has closed and many other Birmingham-area hospitals have laid off employees. Medical West's most recent actions will take effect May 1. The hospital employs 1,350 full- and part-time workers. The hospital will suspend its contributions to employees' retirement plans through the remainder of this year. Employees may continue to contribute. Also, the number of sick days a worker may accrue in a given year is being capped at 10 days, down from 12. Even so, workers may still take however many sick days they have banked, Thornton said.

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