Citizens Medical Center employees told to take time off, some without pay

Sonny Long

June 17, 2010 at 1:17 a.m.

More than 1,000 employees at Citizens Medical Center will be taking five days of vacation during the next five weeks, whether they want to or not.

"I told our employees that this is a good time for them to take vacation," said David Brown, the hospital's chief executive officer. "If they don't have five days of vacation accrued, then they will need to take five days off without pay."

The order went into effect this week.

"We're in the summer months, and it's always a little slow for hospitals," Brown explained. "We are a short margin business and we don't need people sitting around doing nothing."

The hospital's emergency room and operating rooms would not be affected, nor does the mandated time off affect the physician staff, Brown said.

Brown, who has been the hospital's administrator since 1982, said having employees take time off "across the board" is the most fair and uniform way to handle the summer slowdown.

"We want people off the clock now, so they can be here when we need them," he said.

The CEO explained that the hospital routinely asks employees to reduce overtime and manage their time.

"We're always sending people home," he said, "but we haven't done anything as uniform as this before. It wouldn't be fair to tell just the people who have vacation to take off. It has to be uniform."

Victoria County Judge Don Pozzi, who attended a hospital board meeting on Wednesday along with other members of the commissioners court, said Brown mentioned during the meeting that "things were a little slow."

Citizens Medical Center, in operation since 1956, is a county-owned hospital but no tax dollars are used for hospital operations, said the county judge.

Pozzi said county commissioners appoint the hospital's board members who in turn hire the administrator.

The mandated time off will affect about 1,100 employees, "including me," Brown said.



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