Six months into rightsizing and re-organizing what do you get? The county of Alameda is millions of dollars deep into Cambio consulting. Cambio has consultants and interim executives flying into Oakland, riding to their executive suites, and living on unlimited expense accounts.
So what does the public get, besides a good show? Well we got a lay-off list filled with retirees and other ex-employees, we get lots of memos from Mike the temporary CEO, on the nice thick paper, we have four hour waits in the pharmacy, and patients stuck for days in the emergency department, and if things continue on the current path we will likely have a strike. Actually, Cambio has run-off, run over and retired close to a hundred employees, not necessarily employees the medical center could afford to lose but they are gone.
Cambio did produce a budget and the board of trustees did approve it. It contains the incredible shrinking lay-off list, which is down to 185 people; while there are 350 vacant positions, so it isn’t even clear that lay-offs are needed. Unfortunately the consultants can’t get their spread sheets lined up straight enough to determine if the employees slated for lay-off can all be moved into vacant positions. They have succeeded in revitalizing the health care labor movement in the East Bay. Hundreds perhaps thousands of healthcare workers outraged by the misuse of
Measure A funds and the wasteful consultant contracts have begun organizing. There is huge energy and momentum.
On Tuesday, August 03, 2004, workers at all of the county health care clinics walked out and went to 1221 Oak Street to meet with their County Supervisors. The County Supervisors sensing rightly that this was an unusually large crowd and that things have gotten well “out of hand,” took decisive action. They invited the labor unions and the board of trustees to a tea party. The labor unions, and the care providers are doubtful that their differences can be worked out over brunch, so it looks like a strike. The good news is service in many areas has deteriorated so badly that patients might not notice if workers left for a day.