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Good Samaritan Board Approves 2023 Budget that Includes a 5% Wage Increase and $15 Minimum Wage

Good Samaritan Board Approves 2023 Budget that Includes a 5% Wage Increase and $15 Minimum Wage

Good Samaritan held its last Board of Governors meeting for 2022 on Thursday afternoon. The Executive Care Team presented the budget for 2023, as well as provided information about the hospital’s successes over the past year and an outlook of what’s ahead.

Good Samaritan President and CEO, Rob McLin, said the hospital’s primary focus for 2023 will be investing in employees. “If we want to recruit and retain the best and brightest to become the region’s employer of choice, we must invest in our employees,” he added. “With the cost of living increasing and the job market becoming more competitive, our executive team and board felt a large investment in our team was vital moving into 2023.”

The hospital will be making a $3.1 million-dollar investment in employees for merit increases, market adjustments and a minimum wage increase. Good Samaritan’s Executive Director of Human Resources, Tara Ellermann, said most hospital employees will receive at least a 5% wage increase, however, some employees will be receiving a market adjustment. The wage increase will align with performance evaluations and the market adjustments are determined on an individual basis. Merit and market increases will take effect the first pay period in April.

“We want to be competitive in the job market, so all of our positions are compared to Indiana Hospital Association data to see if our compensation is in line with hospitals of similar size throughout the state and region,” Ellermann said.

Another part of the salary budget is the final phase of a three-year plan to increase the minimum starting wage at Good Samaritan to $15 per hour. Beginning in August of 2023, no position at Good Samaritan will pay less than $15 per hour.

As further investment in employees, Good Samaritan will not raise premiums for health insurance for 2023. Also, Ellermann says that for those employees who have selected the High Deductible Health Plan, Good Samaritan will be contributing $500 to the employee’s Health Savings Account.

“We are extremely excited to offer this wage increase to our employees, on top of not making changes to our health premiums,” Ellermann stated. “Our board and executive team understand that times are tough right now with prices of everything on the rise, and that is why we want to make this kind of investment in our employees our top priority for 2023.”

Good Samaritan will also have a focus on controlling costs throughout the organization, while also increasing revenue in areas with expected volume increases. With the investing in the wage program, the hospital’s budget is set to reflect just a 1% operating margin for the year, based on increased outpatient volumes and reduced costs.

“Good Samaritan’s budget for 2023 was developed to support our strategic plan,” stated Matt Schuckman, Chief Financial Officer. “These budget goals include a positive cash flow, growing days cash on hand, targeting a break-even net income, maintaining our number of FTEs, and focusing on a reduction of non-traditional staffing such as travelers and locums through recruitment and alternatives to staffing.”

In order to remain price competitive, Good Samaritan also announced an average rate increase for services at 2.9%. “In order to remain stable in this competitive health care market, we had to increase the costs of our services by a small percentage,” said Schuckman. “This increase is only for hospital services. There are currently no planned changes for Physician Network, Inpatient Rehabilitation and Outpatient Behavioral Health.” Schuckman goes on to say that even with this increase, cost of services at Good Samaritan remain extremely competitive and transparent.

During the meeting, the executive team was also excited to share the hospital’s accomplishments during 2022. These accomplishments included: physician/provider recruitment, growing the residency programs, improving access to care, improving patient experience and new service line initiatives.

In 2022, Good Samaritan added four new physicians and eight advanced practice providers. The new physician additions included Neurologist, Belen Lawless, MD, Pathologist, Christopher Carter, MD, Psychiatrist, Willard Whitehead, MD and Internal Medicine Faculty, Oksana Karpov, DO. The residency programs continue to grow with 36 internal medicine residents and 22 psychiatry residents now at Good Samaritan.

“Provider recruitment is a competitive environment, especially in rural communities,” said Melissa Stearley, Executive Director of Physician Network. “We are excited to see the growth of our team and already have plans in motion to welcome new providers in oncology/hematology, anesthesiology, infectious disease, pulmonary critical care and psychiatry.”

Access to care was improved in 2022 through digital health opportunities that included telehealth, as well as direct and online appointment scheduling. Over the last two years Good Samaritan and Samaritan Center completed more than 4,000 virtual appointments. Online scheduling was also added to the hospital’s website and MyChart to provide 24/7 scheduling access to patients.

Another major accomplishment in 2022 was purchasing the Bierhaus Building in an effort to move several Good Samaritan outpatient services out of leased building spaces. The building was purchased in March and since then the Podiatry office and Community Paramedicine have moved in to the new location, and in the coming months the Urology office, Good Samaritan Foundation, and the Gastroenterology office will be moving to the building. The Knox County Health Department is also now located in the Bierhaus Building.

Good Samaritan Emergency Medical Services launched in July of 2022. McLin said that he is very pleased with the EMS operation over the last six months. “Since we took over EMS for Knox County we have received over 3,000 calls for service and have transported over 2,225 patients,” he added. “This has been a valuable service to our community and we’ve heard tons of positive feedback.”

Looking ahead to 2023, McLin said Good Samaritan will continue working on key initiatives in the hospital’s strategic plan. “Some of our key initiatives include investing in our talent, leveraging technology to improve patient and employee satisfaction, consolidating some ambulatory services in the Bierhaus Building and improving cash flow through diversifying revenue streams, improving reimbursement and managing the cost of care,” he said.

One technology investment in 2023 will be virtual nursing. Chief Nursing Officer, Rachel Spalding, said this initiative will not only support the current nursing staff, but it will also improve safety and the patient experience within the inpatient setting.

“We are excited to implement virtual nursing early in 2023 that will be an extension of our nursing staff,” Spalding said. “Working in collaboration with our vendor partner, we will have nurses assigned to Good Samaritan as a part of our virtual care team. Via video equipment in the patient room, these nurses will be a second nurse for patients helping with admissions and discharges, as well as rounding and answering call lights.”

Another exciting venture in 2023 is Good Samaritan’s collaboration with SIHO Insurance Services to roll out a health insurance product called Good Samaritan Direct Health to small businesses first, then larger organizations in the future.

“We are frequently approached by business leaders and organizations about the challenges they face managing the costs of their employee benefit plans,” stated Adam Thacker, Chief Operating Officer. “This new partnership with SIHO and our new Direct Health insurance product will help us to more actively work with employers to help them manage the health and well-being of their organizations, providing more cost-effective access to care and provider network offerings.”

McLin said he is looking forward to seeing what 2023 brings for Good Samaritan. “The past few years have been tough for health care, but Good Samaritan continues to stand strong and we are committed to becoming our region’s provider and employer of choice,” he stated. “It’s the dedication of all of our caregivers that will help us to achieve those strategic goals, and that is why this year our priority focus is investing back in them. All of our achievements could not have been possible without the hard work of our entire Good Samaritan team.