Denver City Councilman Chris Hinds at the Colorado Politics Legislative Launch Party, held Wednesday, Jan. 15, at the Brown Palace Hotel.

In response to an April 24 CBS4 investigation that found Denver Health Medical Center executives received performance bonuses one week after hospital workers were asked to take pay cuts, Denver City Councilman Chris Hinds called the report “surprising and disturbing.”

The investigation found that bonuses for top executives ranged from $50,000 to $230,000. Denver Health CEO Robin Wittenstein told CBS4 that the compensation keeps the hospital competitive and ensures its staff is paid on par with their peers nationwide.

In a livestreamed Facebook video on Friday, Hinds said that the money should be given back to help hospital workers on the front lines of the coronavirus outbreak.     

“I was shocked to hear that at the same time that Denver Health and its employees are being asked to sacrifice their pay, their food on the table … that there are certain executives that are receiving large bonuses of tens or sometimes even hundreds of thousands of dollars,” he said. “That is not OK.”

Hinds, who represents Capitol Hill, said that “the right thing to do … is for all of us to make sure that we don’t take bonuses and we give that money back to the community.”

Denver Health did not immediately respond to Colorado Politics’ request for comment.

According to CBS4, however, after the news outlet filed the request for information about the bonuses, Wittenstein emailed her executive staff “urging” them to voluntarily give something back, whether it be waiving accrual of personal time off for three months, taking unpaid time off, or making a cash donation to support Denver Health operations.

“PTO days aren’t enough,” Hinds said. “We need actual dollars. We need bonuses to be returned to the community so that we can all pitch in and we can all do our part to make sure that we all kick the COVID pandemic together as a community.”  

Hinds’ District 10 office is “doing its part,” he said, by reducing staff from three to two aides “to make sure that we have proper funding for those who need it.”

Hinds also said that, as long as city charter rules don’t bar him from doing so, he plans to donate the nearly 2.5% salary increase, or roughly $2,300, that council members are expecting in July, which will bump up their pay to $95,557.

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