Denver Health CEO apologizes for timing of exec bonuses

Denver Health Medical Center CEO Robin Wittenstein has apologized to the hospital's employees for the timing of incentive bonuses that were paid to executives a week after front-line staff were asked to take unpaid leave or cut their hours to help the hospital overcome a financial hit caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, according to CBS4

Ms. Wittenstein apologized to the hospital's 7,000 employees on April 27, four days after CBS4 first reported about the incentive bonuses. 

According to CBS4, Ms. Wittenstein asked hospital staff on April 3 to take leave without pay, reduce hours, or use up their personal time off as a way to help address financial stress. Denver Health Medical Center ended March with a $10.6 million operating loss, according to financial documents. On April 10, incentive bonuses earned in 2019 were paid out to about 150 hospital executives and managers. Some of the bonuses ranged from $50,000 to $230,000, according to the report. 

In her April 27 email to hospital staff, Ms. Wittenstein acknowledges that the timing of the payments has "caused you hurt and anger." 

As of Monday afternoon, more than 3,400 people identifying themselves as Denver Health Medical Center workers had signed a petition calling for executives to return the bonuses. 

Ms. Wittenstein said payments to executives were not made in two of the last four years and apologized for not being more transparent. 

"Being informed of incentive payments now to the executive staff, no matter what the explanation … has clearly been painful and dividing, especially because you did not hear about this from me directly first. For this, I am deeply sorry," Ms. Wittenstein wrote to employees, according to CBS4

"It is deeply hurtful to me to think that we have, at this critical moment, experienced such a situation. Again, I am truly sorry for the anger, frustration and pain it caused each of you and hope you accept my apology."

Ms. Wittenstein said she was using her personal time off and waiving accrual of additional time off, equating to a 30 percent salary reduction. She has also pledged $100,000 to the Denver Health Foundation to help employees, according to the report. 

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