Wake Forest Baptist eliminates merit raises - WJBF-TV ABC 6 Augusta-Aiken News, Weather, Sports

Wake Forest Baptist eliminates merit raises

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WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. -

Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center has canceled a 1.5 percent merit raise for employees. 

The hospital did not say how much money it would save by rescinding the raises approved for the fiscal year that began July 1, The Winston-Salem Journal reported. 

The move comes five days after the medical center reported that it had an operating loss of $55 million during the last fiscal year, in part because of the costs of a new electronic health record system. Investment gains offset most of the losses. The total loss was about $570,000. 

The hospital said it had to act to deal with revenue decreases from state budget reductions and lower Medicare payments. It said the reductions came after its budget for the year had been approved. 

"Despite achieving significant efficiencies in the last two years, the medical center feels the institution's financial stability is best served by not implementing a 1.5 percent merit increase for employees," the medical center said in a statement. 

The center is Forsyth County's largest employer with about 13,000 full-time and part-time employees. 

A spokesman would not elaborate on the reductions. 

Hospitals are struggling with fewer outpatient and elective surgeries, more uninsured people seeking help in emergency departments, reimbursement cuts from Medicare and Medicaid, and the impact of the federal sequestration on federal research grants. 

The center said in November it would eliminate at least 950 job positions, including at least 475 full-time positions. Some of the other 475 positions were held by temporary and contract workers. 

Gayle Anderson with the Winston-Salem Chamber Commerce said she is not surprised that Wake Forest Baptist chose to rescind the merit increases. 

"In today's economy, very few employers are able to give merit increases or cost-of-living increases," Anderson said. "A number of employers actually have had to reduce salaries."

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