MIAMI (CBS4) – Miami-Dade County Commissioners will meet Thursday in a special meeting to discuss impending layoffs at Jackson Health System. Regardless of their decision, CBS4 has learned  even experienced nurses who are not on the chopping block are jumping ship for private hospitals.

And some say your care at Jackson Memorial Hospital could suffer for it.

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Midlaine Richard is on maternity leave and is dreading going back to work at Jackson where she’s been a nurse and nurse educator for a decade. She loves nursing, but says times are tough at the hospital.

“It’s been a lot of changes that not only have affected the staff that works there but also the patient care, the reputation of the hospital,” Richard told CBS4’s Natalia Zea.

Richard says last year’s drastic budget cuts have already made working at Jackson a challenge. Now with 10-percent of employees facing layoffs next month, major changes are on the way.
“There’s just so much uncertainty going on right now.”

That’s why though she has worked at Jackson her entire career, Richard is now applying to private hospitals around town.

“I’m considering taking a position at another institution where I’ll know I don’t have to be worrying about layoffs or worrying about being demoted.”

She’s not alone.

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“We have good nurses that have left that have taken on leadership roles at other hospitals, we’ve lost a lot of good people,” lamented Richard.

Private hospitals have no problem taking Jackson’s finest. In fact CBS4 found one hospital website advertising that there are no positions available for new graduates.

“They’re not even considering new grads. They’re open arms for Jackson nurses,” said nurse union president Martha Baker.

Richard said at least one private hospital is even paying her former colleagues to cherry pick the best staff from Jackson. She believes patients will suffer.

“I’m just afraid that if this continues, the service is going to really be poor,” said Richard.

Jackson officials deny that.

“Nurses and employees leaving is a cost of doing business in a large hospital,” said Jackson spokesman, Edwin O’Dell. “Our quality of healthcare is not being affected. People still want to work for Jackson Health System.”

Luis Ovalle hopes that’s true. Like many patients he relies on this public hospital for care. He’s been going there for dialysis for years after having a kidney transplant at Jackson. Ovalle told Zea he’s noticed many of his nurses have changed, and he’s concerned about losing the ones he relies on most.

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“I hope the good nurses get to be here, (that they) don’t leave.”