The Hiawatha Community Hospital announced Wednesday it is reinstating a 2 percent pay wage reduction to its employees.
The Hiawatha Community Hospital wanted to express its gratitude to the 1,097 supportive voters who checked “YES” on the ballot for a half-cent sales tax that was proposed county-wide over the next 10 years to benefit the hospital and healthcare in the county. Although the measure was defeated by just 29 votes, hospital officials wanted to extend their appreciation to the patients and employees that helped tell the hospital story by sharing theirs, to the countless community members who offered kind words, assistance, and support.
“Your support and kindness will not be forgotten,” said CEO John Broberg.
Broberg went on to share that at each of the 29 town hall meetings held leading up to the tax vote, there were many consistent messages shared.
“One of those messages was that the employee cuts in pay and benefits were too deep and not sustainable,” he said.
Employees of Hiawatha Community Hospital took a 2 percent reduction in pay in January 2019, along with many benefit cuts including the retirement plan, life insurance, and long term disability programs. The sales tax dollars were to be used to assist with refinancing and paying off hospital debt.
Broberg said it has been the commitment of the HCH Board of Trustees and hospital leadership team to continue to assess the financial position of the organization with hopes of reinstating wages and benefits as soon as financially possible. The reinstatement of the wages was part of the 2019 budget that was approved by the board and that was shared with the Brown County Commission in March.
Broberg said that on May 28, the Board of Trustees voted to reinstate the 2 percent wage reduction back to HCH employees, and the announcement was made to employees on May 30. He said the reinstatement will take place June 24 and that benefits reinstatement will continue to be reassessed along with the financial position of the organization.
“Reinstating the wages is the right thing to do,” Broberg said. “Employees have sacrificed a lot the past 6 months and it was time to give something back. Based on the increased volumes and improvements in hospital operations and cash flows, we were excited to be able to share some positive news with employees.”
Broberg said that after such a close vote on May 21, the Hiawatha Community Hospital is completing an assessment and will be forth coming with Plan B.
“I have had a lot of great feedback regarding the message that I have shared with the community,” Broberg said. “The best feedback was related to the message that was lost about the needs of the hospital, because the people heard the first bullet ‘the hospital will not close’ but did not hear the rest of the story — the hospital would have used the tax support to access a new bond and refinance our current bond. The sales tax funds would be utilized to make the payments on the bond. The funds saved with the tax support would have been used for capital equipment and renovation needs for the hospital to continue to operate into the future.”
Broberg said Hiawatha Community Hospital provided recent updates to the City and County Commissioners as part of the focus on transparency of the organization.
“The need for tax support to assist with paying for capital and the bond continues,” he added. “We look forward to working with the city and the county on defining next steps. In the meantime, the hospital is committed to continuing to provide high quality and compassionate care to all patients served.”