Hospital staff who banded together to stop layoffs get their reward

Last year, recessionary pressures forced Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston to consider laying off 600 of the hospital's lowest-paid staff members, including janitors, housekeepers and aides. Instead, President and CEO Paul Levy decided to boost transparency about the hospital's financial problems. He held several "town meetings" with the hospital's 6,400 staff members and asked them to consider giving up their raises and bonuses to prevent mass layoffs.

Hospital employees offered 3,600 suggestions for implementing the budget cuts--and agreed to a wage freeze. Consequently, Beth Israel laid off about 70 people, none of them the low-wage earners, and most of them on their way out for other reasons.

The staff solidarity and goodwill have paid off. Levy polled staff members to ask what they wanted if the hospital's financial picture improved. The answer: restoration of those raises and bonuses. This April, staff members will reap that reward.

To learn more about Beth Israel:
- read the Boston Globe article