Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Fact or Opinion.... 9/6

I received an email that pooh-poohed comments as conjecture, rumor, and less than factually based. They wanted specifics. That presents problems:

  • To comment on the blog, with specific facts about a situation requires putting your butt on the line. (Although I've tried to keep identifiers out of publication.)
  • People have been suspended for commenting, logging into, or promoting the blog.
  • One was supposedly fired for not being able to stop the information outflow.
  • Phone calls and computer use are subject to monitoring.

Heck, when just mentioning that they are short-staffed can get a suspension, it kind of takes the wind out of your sails.

The popularity of the blog indicates that it hits a nerve...Essent ( both here and corporate) logs in daily, and so do healthcare organizations from all over the country. I don't know if it's to commiserate, or to gloat...or to see if they are reflected in any of the comments that are so visibly displayed on a platform that has had over 77 thousand hits and is referred to by blogs in several other countries.

Somehow I think it's all of the above.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Cut at any Cost.. 9/2

I really don't know what's happened at corporate, but from what has been coming up in direct emails, it doesn't bode well for the whole. Seems budgetary cuts are the way of life, and what is the simplest solution?....Cut personnel.

The events described in this blog have never seemed remotely close to how the Merrimack Valley Hospital was being run. The MVH folks were mostly proud of how Essent had turned the old Hale Hospital into a respected medical institution in the Valley. The only people that were fired or laid off were people that largely deserved it.

It now seems that Essent has, with the hiring of a new CEO and COO, joined the rest of the Essent hospitals by putting the value of employees at the very bottom of their priorities list.

In the past, the administration would not even consider lay-offs as a means to remedy a poor earning quarter. The new COO has been heard boasting in the hallways of his prowess at his former jobs at slashing employment and saving the day. If the rumors of 50 coming layoffs are true, it would appear the new CEO has been slapped around by the Nashville crowd sufficiently to consider layoffs the quickest way to their dreams of how much this facility should be earning.

Hopefully more to come as events unfold but sign me: "a soon to be ex-employee"
Personnel cuts only work in the short term--as many companies have found. Now, what begs the question: What are they getting ready for? A buy? A sale? Or did they over commit with their promises to the communities in their building programs? To make a new hospital, are they robbing Peter to pay Paul?

As I said, personnel cuts are a fast fix for the lazy. Finding root causes of expenditures is harder, but longer lasting. Thinking out-of-the-box might be cliche, but it would seem that their CEO/COO team had found a nice corner of theirs to hibernate in.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Safe Staffing... 11/20

As long as we're plugging national issues that are coming up and affecting Essent and Paris, let's hit Safe Staffing. I say Paris, rather than PRMC, because it isn't just for nursing, it's for the EMS, Fire Dept, and Police as well. All those whose jobs can directly save lives. This isn't unique to Paris, but we seem to ignore solutions that have been found elsewhere.

We demand more of the community--be it social services, EMS, Fire, or Police departments, but we forget that these things cost money--and the money eventually comes from us.

Are we our brother's keeper? In some cases yes, as well as their parole officer, their jailer, their property's savior, their lifesaver.... If we accept that, then there is no pay for those services. And, since the payment is from property taxes, it is equitable, based on the value of what would possibly be lost...from fire or theft. If we wish additional staffing, than we need to pay for it as well.

But what about medical staffing? When does it impact on the lives of the patients? Nurse Safe Staffing is an issue that is being pushed in most states...but not California.... Why? Because it's already there.

The whole idea is to staff appropriately so as not to force overtime, to avoid using temps that are unfamiliar with the patients and facilities, and to create the cohesive team that is needed in the life and death situations they are faced with.

California adopted a Safe Staffing initiative, and amazingly nurses are retained at a higher level, more students are choosing the nursing careers, and hospital mortality rates are decreasing in many areas of care. The naysayers forecasted doom for those hospitals in California, but apparently none have been forced to close because of the initiative.

"Numerous prestigious medical and nursing journals have concluded the most important question a patient should ask when entering a hospital is, “How many patients will my nurse be caring for?” The answer can have life-or-death consequences."

"The Journal of the American Medical Association reports that the more patients a nurse has to care for, the more likely that serious complications or death will ensue. The study found that each additional patient above four that a nurse is caring for produces a 7 percent increase in mortality. If a nurse is caring for eight patients instead of four, that is a 31 percent increase in the risk of death. The conclusion of this study was that legislation to regulate RN-to-patient ratios was a “credible approach” to improving patient safety and ending the nursing shortage."
...from the Mass Nurses Association

This kind of crossed over to Paris Needs A Super Hero 's turf, but Batman owes me one....

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Specialty Hospitals Are Back! 8/11

Remember the posts about specialty hospitals? They're back! The moritorium has expired and according to Modern Healthcare, they are back in business.

"Physicians plan to build new hospitals in Indiana and Texas, resurrecting a recent trend of doctors owning hospitals that had flattened during a congressionally mandated moratorium against physician referrals to facilities they own, a moratorium that expired Tuesday."
There are several groups in town that have explored possibilities along that line, and with the possible Medicare cuts January 1st, it might get a harder look by others.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Gay Rights? 8/17

Well, Radiology might be out of the closet, but the Massachusetts Nurses Association has filed suit against Essent for denial of healthcare benefits for a spouse in a 'same-sex' marriage.

“This is a blatant case of discrimination by an overzealous, out-of-state employer who purposefully chose to discriminate against their gay and lesbian employees when they could have treated all spouses equally and complied with their contractual obligation not to discriminate,” said Roland Goff, director of labor relations for the MNA, the union representing the nurses at Merrimack Valley Hospital.

“Without telling us they were doing it, and with the authority of officials living and working outside of our state, Essent went out of its way to alter a right granted to our members now depriving them of equal access to health care benefits simply because the affected members are gay men and lesbians,” Goff said. “This was a deliberate and unseemly attempt to discriminate against gay and lesbian members of the bargaining unit.”
Guess it's a good thing that Bice and David are headed for Sharon, CT.