FREMONT -- About 350 of Washington Hospital's unrepresented staff may have to cancel that big vacation this year and opt for smaller weekend trips.
Because of a decreasing patient load, all nonunion staff not providing direct patient care were asked Oct. 21 to begin taking a vacation day every two-week pay period.
The move, which could cost employees 24 days a year, would mean that workers with the least seniority would only have one vacation day to take at their own choosing.
Hospital spokesman Christopher Brown said the "temporary time-off initiative" affects managers and employees in accounting, ambulatory care services, compliance, contracting, the Central Utility Plant and various other departments. Support staff helping to implement the Epic electronic medical records system launched in July will not be affected.
"Since fewer patients than anticipated are seeking care, the hospital is adjusting staffing levels to the actual volume of care," Brown said in an email.
The move comes after district officials in the last few months reached union contract deals that awarded raises to hospital nurses and represented engineers, utility and clerical workers.
Brown said the vacation request will reduce the hospital's vacation liability by $150,000 each pay period -- for a total of $3.9 million by the end of the fiscal year. It is unclear how long the new vacation policy will last, but Brown said it likely will be re-evaluated in January.
If it does last a year and cost employees 24 vacation days, employees with less than one year of tenure will be left with one vacation day to take at their choosing. Employees with two to four years of tenure will be left with six days, employees with five to nine years will have 11 days, and employees with 10 or more years of tenure will have 16 days.
Employees in direct patient care, including those getting raises and bonuses, will continue to work flexible schedules that ebb and flow with patient volume, Brown said.
Under the union deal, the hospital's 683 registered nurses received a 1 percent raise and will receive two 1-percent bonuses by the end of the fiscal year. Nurses will get another 1 percent raise next July, according to their contract. The hospital's 155 represented clerical workers and 25 represented engineers and utility workers will see their pay rise 5 percent by 2015.
Washington Township Health Care District officials projected millions more in 2013-14 operating profits than last fiscal year, but early signs aren't good.
In the first two months of the fiscal year, the hospital saw $4.3 million in operating losses, due in large part to lagging inpatient revenue according to August budget records.
District records also show the hospital had 2,100 fewer outpatient visits than anticipated in July and August combined, and while the number of surgical cases are close to the number anticipated at this point in the year, there were 59 fewer catheterization lab procedures than expected.
Ashly McGlone covers Washington Township Health Care District. Contact her at 510-293-2463. Follow her at Twitter.com/AshlyReports.