Jackson Health System Employees Rally Against Cuts

"I am being crushed," one registered nurse said

Hundreds of angry Jackson Health System employees chanted "Save Jackson" outside Miami-Dade County Hall Tuesday as they tried to stop a wave of layoffs about to hit them.

Jackson CEO Carlos Migoya announced last week that his organization would be laying off 920 staffers and eliminating another 195 vacant positions, steps he said are needed to give it a solid footing for the future.

"I think it is important for everyone to know that the patient ratios are not being impacted in any way," said Migoya. “The volume is lower, that is why we can afford to have less people. In addition to that, our infection rates are the lowest they have ever been and continue to drop. Our patient experience continues to increase and is at the highest point it has ever been at Jackson. We don’t expect what we are doing with reductions to impact any of these things. We will continue to work on this, and the execution of the tactical plan will be to continue to improve the quality of care and safety at Jackson Memorial Hospital and Jackson Health System.”

His proposal would cut 10 percent of the Jackson workforce, but Ava Luces, a registered nurse who has been employed by Jackson for more than two decades, says it already has been “cut down to the bone.”

She became emotional as she said, “I'm very angry because I see that people with money are crushing us. We are the poor people, we are the middle class, and I am being crushed.”

She was among the employees and supporters of Jackson Health System who rallied at the Stephen P. Clark Center Tuesday morning to protest the layoffs. They also signed a petition to be heard before the Miami-Dade Board of County Commissioners. Its chairman, Joe Martinez, has already granted that request, saying in a letter Monday night that the commission would hold a public hearing in the "very near future" about the layoff plan.

SEIU Local 1991 President Martha Baker led the rally, singling out Migoya.

“This is what happens when you hire a banker to run healthcare,” she exclaimed.

Baker said the health system needs to find a way to attract more patients and increase quality care, rather than layoff hundreds of employees. She says the cuts over the years have hurt the quality of patient care.

Migoya has said his plan would save $55 million in salaries in 2012 -- even as 350 part-time jobs open up, with a priority of hiring former employees.

Edwin O’Dell, a spokesman for Jackson, said, “The bottom line is it’s all about efficiency.”

The changes are needed so Jackson can cement its foundation and then work toward “robust and sustained growth," Migoya said last week.

"There are a lot of different issues," he said Tuesday. "There are an awful lot of challenges. We are working through all these challenges."

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