Round one has just begun.
Back in May, the New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation (HHC) released a report titled “Restructuring HHC: The Road Ahead.” The report, which was conducted by Deloitte LLP, suggested that in order to improve the imbalance between HHC’s revenues and expenses, the government entity must undergo a plan that would “right-size” operations, consolidate programs, close clinics and contract work outside the union for technical support.
That’s when the gloves came off for members of DC 37, who claim that the HHC is, once again, attempting to rid themselves of union employees who, DC 37 feels, have done an extraordinary job in the city’s public hospitals.
They’ve also called out Deloitte for having a vested interest in recommending job cuts and contract labor as a solution to HHC’s problems.
In Deloitte’s study, the international accounting and consulting firm targeted administrative services, ambulatory care, acute care, affiliation-physician services and long-term care for “realignment.” In terms of administrative services, Deloitte wants to create “cost-effective shared services operations” and contract out “the management and/or provision of ancillary services.” According to the firm, this would save HHC $141 million.
Long-term care realignment includes consolidating services and proposals that would “target benchmark efficiencies in multiple administrative areas by creating cost-effective, shared services in operations.” This, according to Deloitte, would save HHC $47 million. The firm believes that similar cuts to ambulatory, acute and affiliation-physician services would save an additional $117 million.
Lillian Roberts, president of DC 37, is screaming shenanigans over the report. “They don’t care [about people]. They just want to shut things down for private business,” she said. “We’re talking about human life here. We’re very concerned because Deloitte knows nothing about health care.”
One of the many criticisms of the HHC-sponsored Deloitte report from DC 37 is the alleged lack of transparency. According to DC 37, Deloitte doesn’t identify where it obtained the nationally ranked benchmarks they compared HHC numbers to.
“The Deloitte benchmarks are not clearly outlined to us and we don’t believe that they are using only public hospitals,” said Moira Dolan of DC 37’s research and negotiations department. “The problem with using voluntary and private hospitals for your numbers is that they aren’t required to treat uninsured and undocumented patients. We see everyone and we treat everyone from the emergency room on. [In] voluntary hospitals, after the emergency room, they’ll see you on your way. So, therefore, the numbers aren’t comparable.”
“I think that they’re a management consulting firm with a mission to provide their clientele with a cost-efficiency model,” Dolan continued. “It’s not the same public interest model that we operate on. We have attempted to have a discussion with the HHC and we have not felt that they’ve gone far enough.”
There’s also a conflict of interest issue with Deloitte’s report. The firm has a direct relationship with Sodexho Corp. and Angelica Linen Services. Both companies could benefit greatly if union jobs were contracted out to private companies such as the aforementioned two.
HHC would not respond to AmNews requests.
Two weeks ago, workers at the city’s Brooklyn Central Laundry (BCL) marched in the streets and arrived at HHC headquarters to protest their plans, which would eliminate jobs and contract them out to private services. The 150 BCL workers, who are also members of AFSCME Local 420, clean over 10 million pounds of laundry from New York City’s public hospitals and morgues. Following the protest, DC 37 filed a lawsuit in New York State Supreme Court accusing the HHC of violating an agreement made five years ago that would keep laundry services for public hospitals and morgues with the BCL.
“This goes back to [Rudolph] Giuliani when he wanted privatize the entire laundry facility,” said Dolan. “We came to a settlement where we would have half of the hospitals laundry brought to BCL and the other half to a private company and see who had the best turnaround.” After one year, an independent panel said that DC 37/BCL employees were more cost-effective and efficient. An agreement was made to give all laundry services back to the BCL.
“The agreement was that they would begin to phase facilities back into BCL,” said Dolan. “That was not completed.”
All of the supposed cuts to services could affect the current number of 450,000 people who use New York City public hospitals on a regular basis. With the number growing due to the recent kick in of President Barack Obama’s health care reform bill, Roberts has some advice for any concerned citizens who might want to lend a helping hand to the cause.
“I think they should call the mayor’s office and the president of the HHC because they’re all one basically and tell them hands off the health care,” said Roberts. “The workers have done an outstanding job and I feel bad that they have to be concerned about their job. But every emergency, the hospitals handle it and they do it professionally, and we don’t want that tampered [with].”