TOWN HALL QUESTIONS and ANSWERS:
December 11, 2012

The following is a summary of the questions that were covered at the Dec. 11, 2012 Town Hall, as well as a few additional questions that were received too late to address at the meeting. They are organized by topic for easy reference. Some questions have been edited for length. When multiple questions on the same topic were received, one representative question was used below.

Compensation   |   CMC-related Questions   |   Inpatient Psychiatry   |   New Health Care Plan
Use of Illegal (in Texas) Drugs   |   New Medical Schools

Compensation

  • Q. From my understanding, when Human Resources conducts market analyses to gauge market value in regards to compensation, UTMB employees are compared to markets in the Rio Grande Valley/ El Paso. According to this article in FORBES Magazine, the Houston/Sugar Land/Baytown region is ranked #5 on the list of BEST paying cities. Inversely, El Paso is ranked #4 on the list of WORST paying cities, and the Rio Grande Valley is ranked #2 on the list of WORST paying cities. Who decides that this is a fair and appropriate comparison and what criteria is used to justify this decision? If any of my information is inaccurate, please provide the correct information.

    A. When UTMB conducts market review of jobs, published, independent third-party surveys are used. Currently, UTMB has over 20 survey houses that are used to conduct market review of jobs. In order to appropriately review jobs, national, regional, and local data is used as appropriate. Rio Grande Valley/El Paso is not used. The article appears valid and at UTMB, the market data that yields the most accurate results for many searches is local (Houston metropolitan) data, even when the job is a national search. Once the market review is completed, the jobs are given their own imputed salary range which allows pay within the range given the employee’s knowledge, skills, and performance. An individual’s salary depends both on these factors and on available funding in the person’s department.

  • Q. Market adjustments have increased the midpoint of my salary range, and after my current raise, I make a smaller percentage of the midpoint range than when I was hired. Can I expect a market adjustment to my salary in the future?

    A. Market adjustments are based on several factors, including market analysis and the organization’s need to compete for certain skills. There are no automatic market adjustments based on the midpoint increasing. Should a person’s salary fall below the minimum in the new range, that situation would be examined. That salary could be moved at least to the minimum, as long as the person is meeting expectations.


CMC-related Questions

  • Q. I am a Correctional Care Employee and, speaking for most of my co-workers, we are going on five years without raises in CMC while the cost of living is rising. Non-CMC UTMB nurses have been discussing their Merit raises and Market Adjustments, and we are all eager to find out if there is more money in sight for CMC employees?

    A. One of our top priorities in the next state legislative session is to obtain appropriate compensation for our CMC staff. Unfortunately, it’s not a decision we can make on our own. In our Legislative Appropriations Request for FY14, we have requested a 5.5% increase, and we have requested another 2% increase on top of that for FY15. The Texas Department of Criminal Justice supports our position. We hope to be able to go back to CMC employees after the Legislative Session with positive news about employee compensation.

  • Q. I am a nurse with UTMB-CMC, and would like to know why we do not get compensated for weekend holidays worked, and when we do get holiday pay, it’s for eight hours when we actually work 12-hour shifts? I chose to work this schedule, true, but when Christmas and other holidays fall on the weekend (as Christmas did last year), I should be compensated for it as well as the other nurses and faculty that work weekend schedules.

    A. UTMB follows state guidelines, which are the same for every state agency and allow for reimbursement of a maximum of eight hours pay for holidays. If a holiday falls on a Saturday or Sunday, state law prohibits us from compensating it as a holiday.

  • Q. Should employees be paid according to the work they actually perform? I work in CMC on a large unit with exceptional LVNs and CMAs; their pay range is the same as other LVNs and CMAs that work at much smaller units.  Those of us that work at larger units have a greater patient load and patient population number and should be compensated accordingly and appropriately.

    A. We provide health care in prison facilities ranging from 4,200 offenders to less than 500. We staff the facilities based on the number of offenders to number of health care staff. The question of whether we should pay more to people who work in maximum security facilities has been discussed. However, we have decided the fairest way is to staff based on the number of offenders at a facility and the volume of work they create.

  • Q. Are some CMC Administrators receiving a $10,000 bonus this year?

    A. No.

  • Q. How can CMC employees obtain a UTMB employee ID badge to be able to receive employee discounts particularly at Campus bookstore? Some CMC employees have received badges in the past but many have never received one. One employee was told that they must go down to Campus to receive a badge. Another employee was told during orientation that we no longer give out the badges.

    A. The UTMB Police Department does not issue university ID badges to CMC employees at off-site locations at this time. Although the UTMB Bookstore on the Galveston campus does not currently offer employee discounts, CMC employees who wish to take part in the university’s Discount with ID program can present their existing work ID at any participating business. If you have trouble receiving the employee discount from a participating business, contact Organizational and Workforce Development for assistance.

  • Q. It is extremely difficult to perform your job duties without the necessary equipment and supplies. An example is dental equipment.

    A. The legislative request for CMC includes funding to cover capital improvements, such as updating medical and dental equipment in the clinics. It is the No. 2 priority in our funding request, behind funding for salary increases. We won’t know the outcome of our requests until after the legislative session, but we sincerely hope to be able to invest in this area to provide CMC employees the tools they need to continue providing outstanding care to their patients.


Inpatient Psychiatry

  • Q. When will inpatient psychiatric care return to UTMB campus; and is there any opportunity to increase UTMB bed capacity without sacrificing all these efficiencies and progress that we have witnessed during the tenure of our current leadership team? Thank you.

    A. A business planning effort will be undertaken in the next fiscal year to examine re-opening psychiatric inpatient facilities.  Due to current space limitations, in-patient services probably could not be re-established until the new Jennie Sealy Hospital opens. Meanwhile, access to mental health services is one of the biggest needs we see in the 16-county regional health partnership that makes up the 1115 Medicaid Waiver. That partnership offers an opportunity to look at creative models to provide more access to a primary level of mental health services in outpatient settings.


New Health Care Plan

  • Q. Will any of the new healthcare laws due to go into effect in the year 2014 affect the health insurance of UTMB employees and if so, how? Thank you.

    A. UTMB’s health plan has taken into account all key changes in the Affordable Care Act and it does not appear it will have a negative effect on our health plan. The level of coverage should not be affected. We are in compliance with the law and in a good place, and UT System is prepared to make adjustments in the future as needed.


Use of Illegal (in Texas) Drugs

  • Q. If I take a vacation to Colorado or Washington and partake in legal marijuana smoking, would that jeopardize my employment at UTMB?

    A. Yes. Marijuana use is still illegal in the other 48 states, including Texas. UT System and UTMB policies prohibit use of illegal drugs. If drug-tested and found positive for marijuana use, an employee would be terminated.


New Medical Schools

  • Q. How will the planned creation of two new medical schools in Austin and South Texas impact our campus and are you concerned about the potential impact on our funding?

    A. Our state needs more medical school graduates. It’s a positive step that two significantly underserved areas in terms of academic health services—Greater Austin and the Rio Grande Valley—have the opportunity to have academic health centers. Texas ranks 42nd among states in the ratio of physicians to population. More academic health centers may mean more competition, but in the greater context, we need more doctors, more medical school graduates and more residency programs. It would be a great thing for our state.