MIAMI (CBS4) — Miami-Dade County Commissioners have decided not to interfere with proposed layoffs at Jackson Memorial Hospital.
The county’s commission chamber was packed Thursday with patients, employees, and supporters of the county’s public hospital who asked the commission to do something about the impending terminations.
“We are in a race to the bottom,” said Martha Baker of SEIU 1991. “We are not “rightsizing;” we are downsizing.”
During the hearing, Baker held up a pile of 250 patient incidents that happened since the hospital began furloughs in December.
“Five nurses on the staff in the triage area; three were furloughed; two were there,” Baker said. “It was a busy night. Patients died. This is not right.”
“Healthcare is at stake at this time,” said social worker Magalie Vancol Pena.
“We are very worried because care is being denied at Jackson,” said nurse Omayra Hernandez.
Jackson CEO Carlos Migoya plans to cut more than 1,100 jobs from the hospital system in order to save millions of dollars for a hospital that’s in the red. The layoffs will begin May 1st.
“This is not a band-aid to get us through a budget year,” Migoya said. “And it’s not some sloppy across the board swipe to lop off a preconceived amount of people.”
Employees say last year’s drastic budget cuts have already made working at the hospital difficult.
Patient Marcos Alcayaya said the layoffs will impact his healthcare at Jackson.
“I’ m being discriminated against by Mr. Carlos Migoya,” said Alcayaya.
Commissioners debated throughout the afternoon over what to do with the hospital.
“We talk about saving Jackson. Does that mean saving Jackson so it doesn’t close?” asked Miami-Dade Commission Chairman Joe Martinez, “which is the way it’s been heading for years.”
“I”m concerned that 1100 plus layoffs does not generate revenue,” said Commissioner Sally Heyman. “It only reduces deficit.”
In the end, commissioners committed to do nothing to help either side.
“It’s just mind-boggling to me that you would want to work with your nurses and doctors to evaluate what is safe staffing,” Baker said.
Jackson spokesman Ed O’Dell said the cuts are about making the hospital operate more effectively.
“The bottom line, this is about efficiencies. We need to align our staff to our patient volumes. Poor patient volumes have been decreasing and they continue to decrease, so we’re aligning staff for that patient volume.”
Doctors and nurses say cutting jobs to save money will affect patient care.
“We cannot be more efficient with less employees to take care of the patients we do have,” said nurse Hernandez.
“We have to reduce the number of employees,” Migoya said. “At the end of the day, the number of those impacted is not as dramatic as it is.”
Migoya is addressing the fact that 200 of the jobs are currently open and won’t be filled, another 350 will be re-hired for part-time work with benefits, which has Jackson management seeing the cuts as roughly 550 layoffs.