All 1,162 employees at Lawrence Memorial Hospital will receive cash bonuses this year because the hospital passed an examination and posted a strong financial performance.
LMH board members on Wednesday approved a plan that would give all employees a bonus check that is equivalent to eight hours of their normal pay. Employees who have accrued more than 60 hours of paid time off also will be able to participate in a one-time program that allows them to sell up to 40 hours back to the hospital.
"This isn't something we do every year," said Gene Meyer, LMH president and chief executive officer. "It is a special occasion, but we've had a lot of special things happen this year."
Deborah Thompson, LMH director of human resources, said the program to provide employees eight hours of additional pay would cost the hospital $182,635. The average payout to employees will be about $150 before taxes.
The buy-back of paid time off could cost the hospital an additional $256,364 if all employees sell the maximum amount of hours.
Meyer said the bonus program partially was in response to a positive report from the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Health Care Organizations.
Inspectors from the association were in the hospital examining its operations during early October, said Karen Shumate, LMH vice president of quality services.
The association didn't give the hospital a score but rather a pass or fail grade. The hospital passed the inspection, and Meyer said comments from the inspectors were positive.
"One of the surveyors said this was one of the best surveys she had done in the last couple of years," Meyer said. "She said we should be very proud of the staff and the job that they do."
Specifically, the accreditation team praised the hospital for having pharmacists in the hospital 24 hours a day and for its pre-admission practices for obstetrics patients. Areas the association said the hospital should examine were related to paperwork issues at some of the hospital's clinics and written criteria for discharging certain types of patients.
By law, the hospital must go through an accreditation process once every three years.
Meyer said the bonus program also was a celebration of the nonprofit hospital's finances. During the first nine months of this year, the hospital's revenues outpaced its expenses. The hospital has posted a profit of $5.5 million, up 47 percent from the $3.7 million profit it had expected.
Meyer attributed the financial performance to a greater emphasis on controlling costs through renegotiating supply contracts and better staff utilization. Eight of the 10 expense categories that the hospital tracks are running below budget projections.
The hospital is city-owned and is governed by a city-appointed board, but it does not receive city tax dollars to support its operations.