St. Lukes board approves pay raise as hospital finances improve

Published 3:30 pm Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Thanks to seven months of financial improvement, the St Lukes Hospital Board of Trustees approved CEO Ken Shulls request to reinstate staff pay raises of up to two percent. The board unanimously approved amid thanks and recognition of leaderships ability to manage staffing and expenses as well as to increase revenue.

Like many employers last year, the board agreed to freeze pay raises during a tumultuous economic year. With improvements to the hospitals bottom line, the board voted to reinstate raises effective June 1.

Theres no standard figure for our industry, Shull said, but many hospitals are reporting a 1.2 percent to 1.5 percent increase, so its nice that we are able to go up to 2 percent.

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This is good news for our staff. We recognize and appreciate their work in making St. Lukes successful. Were not out of the woods yet in terms of finances, Shull said, but we are making headway and we believe a raise, though small, will send a strong message that we value our employees.

During its monthly meeting held May 27, the hospital board received information on their role and the importance of measuring and ensuring quality for patient safety and also for maximum reimbursement from payers. Dr. Roger Ray, executive vice president and chief medical officer for Carolinas HealthCare System (CHS), presented an extensive report to the full board regarding the importance of quality care for patients and providers and the boards role in assuring the quality of care.

Responsible for providing leadership and strategic direction related to performance improvement in quality and patient safety for CHS, Dr. Ray and his staff spent much of last Thursday at St. Lukes Hospital meeting with medical staff and members of the boards new quality committee, chaired by Becky Collins. In his presentation, Dr. Ray acknowledged that St. Lukes Hospital is ahead of many hospitals in the CHS system in terms of measuring and improving quality. Dr. Ray explained that Medicare and other insurers are looking at quality indicators, patient satisfaction, readmission rates and infection rates among others.

On another positive note, the board heard a report from finance committee chair Bill Hillhouse that St. Lukes financial picture is improving and that the hospital has been able to pay down the hospitals line of credit, with $400,000 remaining from the September balance of just over $2.5 million.

In other business, auxiliary chair Jean Shumway reported another successful month for the new Thrift Shop, and Clark Benson thanked the bylaws committee for its hard work in updating corporate bylaws.

The board also congratulated Norm Powers, chair of the foundation board, after viewing a new video about the importance of St. Lukes Hospital to the community. The video was unveiled during the foundations Spring Fling last Saturday and is available for public viewing as a tool to tell the hospitals story.