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Medical News Update

Hospital Management Crisis Continues Patients Pay with their Lives!

(OUTCRY Magazine #10)

Hospital Management in Crises: Workers and Patients fight Back

Many hospitals across the nation have initiated staff reduction to increase their profits. They are using intended health care reform as a ploy to create hardships for hospital workers and endanger patients lives. How far should they go to over-commercialize medicine to the point of compromising the quality of care? Should health care remain a business or bring back its original intention as a "mission of mercy?"

Hospital administrators don't understand that an understaffed hospital is a serious danger to employees and patients. As the rate of infectious diseases such as AIDS, hepatitis and tuberculosis increases, health care workers are at great risk. The number of nurses accidental needle sticks increases when nurses are over stretched due to staff shortage. A quality care hospital environment, is a safer and better care for patients and employees.

Latest report indicated many emergency room physicians can't handle emergency cases as well as paramedics. Consequently, many patients died. Few months ago, Diane Sawyer of Primetime reported cases of pap smear errors and patient deaths. Are the hospitals dangerously compromising the quality of care because of their desire to make more profits?

Overcoming the Invisible Crime by 'Yinka Vidal exposes hospital management in serious crisis and many patients tragedies. It's a compelling story of abuse of power where money is more important than human lives. It defines the anatomy of institutionalized violence, a shocking look behind the doors of some hospital's managements and the national outcry of health care workers for help. A wonderful book for prospective patients to read before hospitalization to prevent them and their loved ones from hospital mishaps. "A heart-rending story," says Diane Sawyer of Primetime.

At this point, hospital business managers have completely taken over the practice of medicine under their so call managed care while dictating to nurses and physicians how to practice medicine.  Most hospital administrators have not spent a day of their lives in any medical institution or acquire any medical training. This is a very dangerous trend emerging in many hospitals across the nation and society is unaware of the pending disasters. By law, hospital business managers are not licensed to practice medicine. Managed care under a business manager will land many patients in disaster. Sadly, many patients have already died as a result of this ill advised approach to the practice of medicine. Hospitals continue to jack up prices and endangering patients' lives by cutting corners because of their interest to generate more profit. Nothing they have done so far has reduced the cost of health care which continue to go up.

St. Louis University hospital layed off 77 employees around June of this year. Many hospitals in this area have merged into multi-million dollars conglomerates. Health care is no longer a mission of mercy folks, it's now a business for the greedy! In September, Deaconess Health System notified its two thousand and three hundred workers to give back two days of their vacation pay and their salary frozen for one year. At St. Luke's Hospital, all employees are supposed to be one day short every pay period. Some of the workers are complaining, the supervisors were not taking cuts supposed to affect everybody. Almost all hospitals in St. Louis area have instituted a form of cost cutting measure under managed care by hospital administrators. Medicine has been taken out of the hands of clinicians and put in the hands of business managers rewarded with millions of dollars in salaries and "porks."

In St. Louis Post Dispatch of October 22nd, 1994, in "letters from the people" section, a patient relative, Beverly Mayo expressed an outrage at the type of poor services she witnesses at St. Mary's Hospital due to staff shortage. She said, "It doesn't take a Ph.D. in hospital administration to understand poor patient care situation occur when a hospital is already seriously understaffed."

Many people want to know what happened to hospitals' increased revenue? They are the products of flamboyant construction work going on in many hospitals to rebuild or build elegant Trump Tower like physician offices, rearranging and repainting of hospital walls, retiling already nice floors, creation of many administrators and vice president positions and the elaboration of the C.E.O's staffing and their outrageous salaries. Christian Hospital has just announced a sixteen million dollar renovation of the surgery department. Will these buildings heal patients? None of these will help cure a single patient, yet when workers complain, the hospital managers resort to abusive responses. Many nurses have been terminated without notice and any employee who complains about staff shortage may lose his or her job. In Centrelia Hospital in Illinois, a couple of physicians were disciplined for complaining about the poor quality of care at the hospital. Some hospital employees around St. Louis have indicated, this is the type of terrorism engaged by some hospital authorities to scare their workers. According to one health care worker, "They are saying, we will not only fire you, we can also destroy your life by blocking you from working in other hospitals." Yet, when a former employee turns a gunman in the hallway, society always ask the question, why?

Regarding the cases of abuses by hospital administrations, many people are asking the question, what went wrong with the conscience of some hospital administrators? A St. Louis nurse said, "How can you lose something you don't have? They haven't lost their hearts, some of them don't have one." Will this chronic desire for money by the rich and powerful justify reasons to abuse employees or endanger patients' lives? How many more patients will die?

Incidents of patients and employees abuses forced health care workers to say to hospital administration enough is enough! They have started organizing into a powerful labor force to protect the interest of patients and health care workers particularly from the abuse of hospital administration. This movement is said to be gaining ground all over St. Louis. Different hospital workers have joined in the effort to unionize their institutions.

In DePaul Hospital, prior to the union vote, the hospital threatens some employees and showed anti-union video which infuriated the Teamsters. In response, the Teamsters pulled plug on DePaul Hospital by asking their members to boycott the institution and urged other labor organization to do likewise. The boycott is bound to cost the hospital millions of dollars. Instead of DePaul Hospital admitting to their anti-union campaign, Robert J. Henkel's memo of September 23rd, 1994 claimed that The Post Dispatch front page article of September 22nd, 1994 which reported the incident of the tape caused the Teamsters response. Earlier on, St. Louis Children's Hospital's memo of August 29th, 1994 by Alan W. Brass to the employees cheered the union voting results as a defeat for the union while such disinformation didn't clarify that the nurses votes were still not counted because the hospital challenged the nurses and technical workers' right to organized labor.

The problem with all these is the inability of hospital administrators to get the point. Hospital administrators must understand something, they can't practice medicine without a license. Any managed care plan excluding clinicians is a dangerous intervention. Few months ago, 60 Minutes News magazine reported a case of emergency room staffed by unqualified doctors resulting in increased patients' death. This is what managed care under hospital administrators has done. They have compromised the quality of care by killing more patients for the value of money. The situation will not get better with the new Congress which is going to be more pro-business. Many more people are going to die, the handwriting is on the wall.

Pick up a copy of "Overcoming the Invisible Crime" it's time you knew what is going on inside some hospitals' managements. Your life may depend on it.

Media release by Lara Publications, 12382 Trail Forest Lane, Florissant, Missouri 63033 314-653-0467.

Media First Release: December, 1994

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