Layoffs Not Sitting Well With Jackson Nurses

MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Twenty-four hours after news first broke that Jackson Health System was laying off 920 people, many of those impacted by the firings are not going to go quietly.

“This is unsafe and over my dead body will you tell my nurses to take unsafe staffing levels,” said Martha Baker of SEIU 1991. “75% of hospitals in the country staff better than Jackson. We are the 25th percentile. And now Mr. Migoya wants to gouge deeper.”

Jackson Health System chief executive officer Carlos Migoya announced Tuesday a total of 920 people will be laid off and that layoff notices will go out as early as April 6. In addition, 195 positions will simply be eliminated from the books, or as Jackson and businesses are trying to spin it today, “right-sizing.”

In all, 1,115 positions will be either laid off or eliminated, which represents 10 percent of Jackson’s workforce. The cuts include 593 nurses, 195 vacant positions, 31 medical professionals and 14 doctors.

“The bottom line is if you don’t have all the patients there than you don’t need all of the people there,” said Jackson spokesman Ed O’Dell.

Jackson said the cuts are similar to what is happening across the country. But, O’Dell told CBS4’s David Sutta the hospital census is down seven percent since October. But, the reason for the empty beds isn’t that everyone is healthy.

“They are delaying going in for actually elective surgery because they don’t want to spend the hard earned cash,” O’Dell said. “The economy has had a tremendous effect on healthcare.”

Baker said Jackson is playing a dangerous game with patient care.

“When you want to go to a one to seven nurse ratio, one to six nurse ratio, when you know the evidence is that hurts patients lives, we can’t tolerate it,” Baker said. “And if your motive is money, what else do we have to give?”

Baker pointed out the layoffs comes as Jackson employees are already facing $100 million in pay cuts and eight furlough days.

“It’s got nothing to do with quality care. It’s got nothing to do with patients,” Baker said. “He [Migoya] doesn’t care who lives or dies. This is about ‘how do I get to the bottom line. I need to make this place sustainable.’”

O’Dell said that is not true and that part-time help will help fill the gaps from the layoffs.

“No matter what, our healthcare, we are keeping our staff where our healthcare is not going to suffer,” O’Dell said. “I can make that assurance because I know that people are going to be on the floors.”

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