MIAMI (CBS4) – Local unions protested a plan to privatize part of Jackson Memorial Hospital Wednesday.  The unions claiming the move would put profits before patients.

“The doctors and nurses here do not serve bankers.  They do not serve lobbyists.  They serve patients,” said Troy Sutton, a Miami Firefighter and member of IAFF 587.

The protest took place In front of one the busiest trauma center in America.  Fire, police, and nursing unions each took turns complaining about the proposal.

Dr. Paul Adams, who runs the emergency room, expressed his discontent as well.

“This institution exists for one reason only.  It’s a public healthcare institution.  It’s mandated to take care of our public.  It’s not mandated to ask if you can meet your deductibles,” he said.

The proposal, which is just that right now, would replace roughly 50 physicians and nurses in the ER, with contract employees.

“You change out those doctors and now they are incentivized by the profit.  Their profit driven,” Martha Baker with SEIU told us.

Hospital spokesman Ed O’Dell disagreed.

“We set the policies.  Not the private company.  We set the policies about what happens in our emergency room.”  O’Dell said.

Jackson is defending the proposal as financially prudent to simply investigate if it’s better. O’Dell pointed to public hospitals in Broward that do this already.

“We set the polices.  And our mission does not change.  Our mission cannot change.  We are here to serve the people of Miami-Dade County.” O’Dell reaffirmed.

Baker contends privatization would change how far though they go.

“They will not be breaking the law to send that patient home with cancer in their stomach.  They will not be breaking the law to send that patient out the door without a cast on their arm. It will be legal.  It violates the mission of this public hospital.” Baker said.

The whole issue boils down to care versus costs with patients caught in the middle.

Florence Broder, a patient at Jackson, felt compelled to stand with the unions in protest as well.

“They have saved my life.  Please as I stand here today, don’t remove them.” she said.

Jackson was planning on moving on the proposal one way or the other sometime in the fall.  It may happen as soon as Thursday though.  The unions are hoping to push the Financial Recovery Board, which meets on Thursday to vote on the proposal to kill it.


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