The struggle between Orlando Health and its employees has really started to make waves.
There has been mainstream media coverage, here and here.
Read the NH Labor News articles on the situation, here and here.
Just so we are all on the same page, let’s recap. The CEO of Orlando Health, Sherrie Satirik, says the hospitals are loosing money and they need to save over $18 million a year. To make these saving a reality, the CEO and Executive board have decided to cut all night and weekend differentials from their workers. This is going to cost workers between $7,000 and $15,000 a year.
Let’s not forget that the that Orlando Region Medical Center (a part of Orlando Health) is home to John Hillenmeyer, ranked as one of the top 25 highest paid non-profit hospital CEOs in the country. Add into the fact that executives at Orlando Health pocketed $10.3 million in compensation last year.
It sure seems like they could make a few revisions to their executive compensation package, and that would help to balance their budget a little.
As of now over 4,000 people have signed a petition started by a RN at Winnie Parker Hospital asking Orlando Health to reconsider cutting the workers’ differentials.
It appears they are getting noticed. The CEO of Orlando Health, Sherrie Sitarik, announced that Orlando Health would be delaying the forced pay cuts for one month. Despite the delay, a spokesperson for Orlando Health said the decision to make the cuts is final: “that cannot be changed.”
Sitarik also warned that if the workers really wanted to keep these differentials, that Orlando Health would be “forced” to make another round of layoffs – of more than 300 employees. Fewer nurses means higher nurse-to-patient ratios, lower quality-of-care, and higher mortality rates. (Read the JAMA article “Hospital Nurse Staffing and Patient Mortality, Nurse Burnout, and Job Dissatisfaction” here.)
Some are wondering if the corporation had planned to lay off more workers even before they announced the pay cuts. On August 2nd. the Orlando Health spokesperson told WFTV:
“Efficiency enhancements, expense reduction, restructuring processes, and reorganization of staff, are expected as part of this ongoing process.”
This was days before Orlando Health announced they would be cutting workers’ pay.
National Nurses United has offered assistance to the workers – and it looks like they may need the outside help.
Eilynn Mcgowan, a RN from an Orlando Health hospital, told me “there are many people behind the scenes offering support but are afraid to step forward.” They are afraid they will lose their jobs if they speak out. While Mcgowan is also worried about losing her job, she said “At some point people need to stop being afraid because that is what they (Orlando Health) want. I refuse to back down to them.”
Mcgowan – like other Orlando Health nurses and staff – is angry that these cuts are coming after employees worked so hard to get MAGNET Hospital status. Mcgowan said a lot of the MAGNET status accreditation comes from nurse’s satisfaction.
“A Magnet hospital is stated to be one where nursing delivers excellent patient outcomes, where nurses have a high level of job satisfaction, and where there is a low staff nurse turnover rate and appropriate grievance resolution. Magnet status is also said to indicate nursing involvement in data collection and decision-making in patient care delivery. The idea is that Magnet nursing leaders value staff nurses, involve them in shaping research-based nursing practice, and encourage and reward them for advancing in nursing practice. Magnet hospitals are supposed to have open communication between nurses and other members of the health care team, and an appropriate personnel mix to attain the best patient outcomes and staff work environment.” (1)
Arnold Palmer Hospital was recognized as a MAGNET hospital in 2013. It’s not that many months later. How can these hospitals say they are “listening to their staff” while they arbitrarily cut pay and lay off workers?
Being a MAGNET hospital means a lot to workers and to patients.
An October 2011 study by Linda Aiken and colleagues found that Magnet hospitals “have better work environments, a more highly educated nursing workforce, superior nurse-to-patient staffing ratios, and higher nurse satisfaction than non- Magnet hospitals.” (2)
Click here for more information on why hospitals and staff push for magnet status.
There is another reason that Orlando Health and Arnold Palmer Hospital pushed for MAGNET status. Like everything else in the corporate world it all boils down to money. MAGNET Hospitals become a part of the pay for performance system.
“Medicare will launch the hospital VBP program, in which pay-for-performance programs will receive incentives for demonstrated excellence and improvements in patient safety and effective care.” (3)
This means that MAGNET hospitals get more money in reimbursement and extra incentives.
Eilynn Mcgowan told me the she firmly believed that “Orlando Health must have been planning these cuts before they received their MAGNET status”. Hindsight is always 20/20. Corporate executives don’t make decisions like this overnight. She is obviously correct.
In November of 2012 the Orlando Sentinel reported:
“In the largest staff reduction in its nearly 100-year history, Orlando Health is cutting up to 400 jobs starting immediately, hospital system officials announced Monday. The move is part of a broader effort to position the hospital system for the health-care overhaul, CEO Sherrie Sitarik said.
The elimination of jobs will occur in two phases and represents a 2 percent to 3 percent reduction in the system’s 16,000-person work force, said Orlando Health spokeswoman Kena Lewis. The cuts affect all departments and all eight of the system’s hospitals, including Orlando Regional Medical Center and Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children, two of the system’s better-known facilities.” (Emphasis added)
The second phase of those cuts were announced on August 2nd of this year.
This whole thing sounds fishy. They laid off hundreds of workers, while pushing the staff to tell the accreditation team that they were happy and respected in their jobs, all to get MAGNET status. Then after they get MAGNET status, they stick it to the workers with more layoffs and pay cuts.
It makes you wonder: what would these workers say now, if they were asked those same questions today?
The workers at Orlando Health hospitals are not taking this laying down. They started a petition and are quickly organizing to form a solid negotiating team to fight back against these cuts. Even if you do not work for Orlando Health – if you support these hard working people, start by signing their petition.