Sunday, August 14, 2016

Slow Saturday Special: Threatened Nurses Strike Cost Partners

Just cleaning up some bedpans leftover from last night....

"Strike preparations cost Brigham $24 million" by Priyanka Dayal McCluskey Globe Staff  August 12, 2016

Brigham and Women’s Hospital narrowly avoided a nurses strike earlier this summer — but the showdown was costly nonetheless.

The Boston teaching hospital took a $24 million hit from spending on strike preparations, its parent company, Partners HealthCare, reported Friday.

They drew blood.

That includes about $8 million for temporary replacement workers hired in case the hospital’s 3,300 nurses walked out. Brigham lost another $16 million in revenue because it transferred hundreds of patients and canceled procedures and appointments ahead of the threatened one-day job action on June 27.

The Massachusetts Nurses Association and management reached a three-year contract deal in the early hours of June 26. The compromise settled differences on wages, benefits, staffing levels, and other sticking points — and avoided the strike.

“No one likes to be out $24 million, but frankly, at the end of the day, it was the cost of doing business,” said Peter K. Markell, chief financial officer at Partners. “Hopefully, we don’t have to do it again when this contract expires.”

I $uppo$e that is what's wrong with the medical profe$$ion in AmeriKa today.

Partners is the state’s largest health system, and its roster of 10 hospitals includes Brigham and Massachusetts General. The nonprofit organization said the labor dispute at Brigham contributed to an overall operating loss of $33 million in the quarter that ended June 30. In the same period last year, Partners reported $30 million in income.

The company said other factors also contributed to its weak results, including the costs of implementing expensive new electronic health records software. The $1.2 billion system, developed by Wisconsin-based Epic Systems Corp., eventually will be launched across the entire Partners network of doctors and hospitals.

Let's hope it performs better than all the other crap government and business ('cept bank ATMs) buy.

Partners incurred higher-than-usual real estate expenses in the quarter, as it began to move thousands of employees scattered across various leased offices into a new headquarters in Somerville’s Assembly Row.

Partners’ insurance arm, Neighborhood Health Plan, posted a $40 million loss on operations on higher-than-expected medical claims. The insurer largely serves people on Medicaid, the government program for people with no or low income, and it has struggled with heavy losses in recent years. Neighborhood has worked to grow its more lucrative base of premium-paying commercial customers.

Yeah, the whole thing is a me$$ and yet we are being told what a success it is!

Partners’ revenue for the quarter grew 7 percent to almost $3.2 billion. It is on pace to record at least $12 billion in revenue in the fiscal year ending Sept. 30, far exceeding any of its competitors. 

Record revenue?

Brigham and Mass. General are the biggest moneymakers in the Partners system. Mass. General does not have a unionized workforce, but Brigham does. Brigham officials hired a staffing agency on retainer last fall when they began negotiating with the nurses union to prepare for the possibility of a strike.

I'm about to go on strike from this $lop.

The union voted for a one-day strike, but hospital leaders said they would lock out the union nurses for an additional four days.

They threatened a one-day and it cost all that money with temps hired and all? 


This is being used to bend the nurses back over!

As the date of the walkout neared, Brigham took new steps to prepare. It reduced its operations to about 60 percent of normal. Many sick patients, including premature newborn babies, were transferred to other hospitals.

Just 360 patients were at Brigham on the day of the planned strike, hundreds fewer than typically fill the 793-bed medical center.

Yeah, everyone was inconvenienced to show you how unreasonable are the nurses and how bad unions are! Management will do that!

Through its staffing agency, Brigham also hired 700 temporary replacement nurses from across the country to help staff the hospital in case of a strike. The temp workers were sent home after Brigham and the nurses union reached a deal — but the hospital still had to pay for them.

Yeah, boo-hoo. Between the oceans of loot the hospitals, insurers, and pharmaceuticals are swimming in I'll need to a pill for that last part.

Joe Markman, a spokesman for the union, said nurses are not surprised that the hospital had to incur such costs. “The publicity surrounding nurse strike preparations, the concerns patients had about replacement nurses, and the drop in census at the hospital likely all led to a reduction in profitability,” he said.

Brigham collects about $2.5 billion in revenues annually. It’s unclear if strike preparations caused Brigham to lose money overall in the last quarter. Partners and the hospital did not provide those figures. Brigham officials did not comment Friday.

Oh. the Globe made it sound like they lost $33 million. WTF?

The hospital and the nurses union reached their contract deal after almost 10 months of tense talks, and several marathon negotiating sessions. They didn’t find a compromise until elected officials and business leaders, including Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh and former Partners chairman Jack Connors, got involved and urged both sides to settle.

Heavy hand of officialdom touched 'em on the shoulder. 

Isn't that harassment?


As a general rule that I have stated often in the past, give the nurses whatever they want. They are the front lines of the system, and no one wants a disgruntled nurse coming at them. Not that they will harm you in any way, but you just want that person to be happy and satisfied with their work. That's why they went into it, right?

Meanwhile, out my way....

"To fix budget gap, Baystate Health plans to cut 300 jobs" by Curt Woodward Globe Staff  August 12, 2016

Baystate Health, the dominant health care system in Western Massachusetts, plans to lay off about 300 people as it tries to close a $75 million budget shortfall spurred by shrinking federal payments, the nonprofit said Friday.

In a memo to Baystate staff, chief executive Mark A. Keroack said the job cuts — about 2.5 percent of the company’s employees — could save Baystate about $20 million. Layoffs will be concentrated in the company’s Springfield operations, which include the system’s flagship hospital, Baystate Medical Center.

Baystate blamed much of the deficit on federal spending on health insurance programs for older and lower-income patients that fails to keep up with hospitals’ costs, along with continuing increases in employee wages and benefits, insurance, and prescription drugs. 

It's Obamacare in action, and yet somehow tethering herself to it will win Hillary the presidency. 

Maybe that is all gospel truth from the pre$$ there; however, I'm thinking of all the loot going to the war machine, Israel, going corporate concerns, lavish political lifestyles, and on and on, with all the missing money and corruption seeping out its pores, and they can't find the money for basic health. 

Not that I want them to anymore. The evilness of this lying and looting government that promotes a false image and illusions of itself has convinced me that I want them as far away from it as possible. No national single-payer plan; that's what the VA is, and we've seen what happened to the vets!

The most significant part of the deficit, Keroack wrote, comes from “the continuing shortfalls in the reimbursements we receive for providing Medicaid services,” the federal health plan that covers lower-income people.

But Baystate said an accounting mistake by another health care system exacerbated the budget shortfall.


Federal rules say Medicare, the health care program for older Americans, can’t pay any hospital in a given state less than it pays rural hospitals for their wages. Nantucket Cottage Hospital, owned by Partners HealthCare, sets that minimum rate because it’s considered the state’s only rural hospital.

In years past, that has helped Massachusetts hospitals keep Medicare wage payments relatively high, since the 19-bed island hospital’s remoteness drives up wages.

Yeah, that was the subject of much consternation in Congre$$.

But consultants hired by Partners miscalculated the wage rates this year, a mistake projected to reduce federal payments across the state by about $110 million. Federal officials rejected Partners’ appeal of the decision this week, noting that it had missed the deadline for submitting corrected wage data.

They have college degrees or.... wtf (blog editor frowning)?

In his letter, Keroack wrote that laid-off workers would be eligible to apply for other open positions “of critical need” elsewhere in the health care system.

It's a game of musical chairs, and I guess that keeps the nurses on their feet, 'eh?!

A spokesman for the Massachusetts Nurses Association, which has 338 members in the Baystate system, said the union is concerned about the layoffs.

“A decision to eliminate any front-line staff may jeopardize safe patient care,” said the spokesman, Joe Markman. “It is vital for those assisting and providing patient care who live in the communities served by Baystate to have a strong voice in any contemplated changes.”

Kind of my worry, but... hey, who cares if no one can hear you groaning in the dark?


Might as well be invisible out here.

UPDATE: Sorry to take so long getting you premium information, and you may want to sit down first.