Employees Brace for Massive Layoffs at Jackson - NBC 6 South Florida

Employees Brace for Massive Layoffs at Jackson

Huge deficit to blame for expected hospital layoffs

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    Employees Brace for Massive Layoffs at Jackson
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    MIAMI - DECEMBER 08: A U.S. Army medic from the 212th Combat Support Hospital ties up his surgical mask during a 24-hour shift at Jackson Memorial Hospital's Ryder Trauma Center December 8, 2006 in Miami, Florida. The U.S. Army Trauma Training Center at the hospital gives medics heading into combat operations the training necessary to work on the battlefields in Iraq and Afghanistan. Miami's Ryder Trauma Center was chosen because it provides access to the volume and severity of injuries needed to mimic those experienced on the battlefield. Among the goals of the program is to foster teamwork among the medics as they participated in an intense, 14-day program. The rotation culminates with a 24-hour exercise where the unit essentially takes over operations of the Ryder Trauma Center. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

    Word that massive layoffs are imminent at Jackson Health System's hospitals has doctors, nurses, and other healthcare workers concerned about where the axe will fall.

    "I've heard numbers anywhere from 1,200, 1,500, 2,000," said Martha Baker, President of Local 1991 of the Service Employees International Union.

    As a registered nurse, Baker is also one of Jackson's over 12,000 employees.

    "Last month they were losing $3 million a month, three days later, oh my gosh we're losing $14 million a month," Baker said. "Somebody needs to be held accountable."

    The healthcare union will be meeting with a representative from the Labor Relations department Tuesday morning to receive a list of affected departments and employees at Jackson Memorial Hospital.

    The deficit has been building for years and suddenly the projected loss for 2010 is now a jaw-dropping $229 million -- four times more than what was initially expected. The nation's third largest public health system is facing a monumental fiscal crisis.

    Jackson health executives point to the inefficient billing and collections process, saying a big chunk of bills -- many uninsured patients' bills -- were never paid.

    "The community should ask the public health trust 'Why are we here?'" Baker said. "There's some talk closing the Jackson South ER, some 45 percent of those patients are unfunded."

    Baker said she's disappointed that Jackson's Public Health Trust and CEO, Dr. Eneida Roldan didn't first sit down with the union to explore other options before making this decision.

    Board member Marcos Lapciucsaid cuts are inevitable as Jackson moves to find ways to cut down on services and payroll.  In fact, Jackson only has 20 days left in cash reserve according to Lapciuc.

    Its costs about $2 billion a year to operate the tax-assisted hospital system. On Friday, CEO Dr. Eneida Roldan sent out a letter to employees stating the leadership is trying to "Save Jackson...we have reduced the number of contracts we hold with outside agencies, lowered the cost for those that remain, cut the compensation that our top executives receive, and closed some services that were no longer profitable."

    Last Wednesday, 22 non-union employees were laid off and apparently that's just the beginning.

    "We're outraged and tomorrow is gonna be the day we get the list of perhaps a significant number of layoffs, we're not sure, there's been absolutely no communication with us on that," Baker said.