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Orlando: We Paid Above-Market Rates

(Editor's Note: This letter is a response to an article in the Orlando Sentinel Aug. 9 "Orlando Health workers concerned by cutbacks in hours and pay."

Orlando Health, like hospitals across the country, is being asked to reduce the cost of healthcare to the public. We have already implemented significant cuts in management overhead and have eliminated positions mostly though attrition. 

Our next initiative, among many to come, is to reduce certain pay premiums, such as shift differentials (extra pay for work on nights, weekends, and holidays) and "call pay" (pay for coming in off-shift).  Currently, these pay premiums are much higher than what most other hospitals in this area are paying.

We have communicated to those team members most directly affected that these reductions will be implemented in September.  While we understand this is difficult news for them to hear, as individuals, we simply cannot afford to pay differentials, which for certain shifts and jobs, are at or above 90% of the market. In this current environment these extra costs are unsustainable and we cannot impose them on the public.

In this new healthcare environment, Orlando Health must implement cost reductions like this and become a more cost efficient organization without sacrificing quality care for our patients.  Aligning differential pay rates to the market is a prudent and financially responsible business decision that was made only after in-depth research and analysis.

Again, we appreciate the impact these changes will have on some team members individually, but these adjustments will reduce costs by an estimated $18 million annually and making these adjustments now could save jobs.

We are committed to continuing to meet the healthcare needs of the patients, families and communities we serve for another 100 years.  However, to continue fulfilling our healthcare mission we must adjust to new healthcare delivery and reimbursement models.

The actions we take now are proactive steps to reduce expenses, increase efficiencies, and achieve quality outcomes without compromising patient care.  In addition, they will help ensure our viability for the long term.

--Kena Lewis, Director
Media Relations/Public Affairs
Orlando Health

Originally founded in December 2006 as an independent grassroots publication dedicated to coverage of health issues in Florida, Health News Florida was acquired by WUSF Public Media in September 2012.