Tuesday, September 28, 2004

What’s Up?

What will happen? Did the board of supervisors know the medical center is in deep doo doo with the state and the feds or did they find out about it Sunday when they read the Oakland Tribune? They get those “secret briefings” with Cambio Health Solutions. Let’s hope somebody has a plan, November 10th isn’t that far away. Where’s Temporary CEO Mike and the spin doctors when you need them, a few lines would do, how about, “hope for the best, pray with us, or this might be a good time to tune up your resume.”

I just don’t get it, the medical center is about to be closed down over staffing and safety issues and the board of supervisors is still fighting for layoffs. I’m confused and well frankly annoyed; I should be spending my precious free time trying to get a Democrat into the White House. Instead, I’m stuck here struggling to explain the obvious to a bunch of Democratic supervisors that I voted into office. Sometimes it’s hard and well quite honestly embarrassing being a Democrat in Alameda County.

Rumor is that Cambio and the board of trustees may have finally come to their senses and that some kind of proposal to postpone layoffs and focus on the more immediate problems maybe forthcoming. This thanks to the tireless work of medical center employees and SEIU locals 250, 616 and 535. So anyway, things will happen this week.

The board of trustees is meeting:

Wednesday September 29
Highland Hospital
Classroom A
Public Comment at 6:00 pm

Sunday, September 26, 2004

Medical Center Closing?

Well those fun loving Cambio Health Consultants and their spin doctor have done it again. There's so much dirt even the Tribune's digging into them.

To read Rebecca Vesely's piece, "Feds May Close Medical Center," in the Oakland Tribune click here:


Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Good News At Last- Walkouts

I got a medical opinion at Highland about my consultant-induced situational depression. A physician I admire and respect told me quite candidly that it would take a lot of prescription medications and possibly recreational drugs to take the edge off the current situation.

The most popular conspiracy theory this week is that Cambio Health Solutions was brought in to close the medical center down, employees can’t believe they could make this many mistakes unintentionally. Personally, I’m a big believer in stupidity and incompetence. Besides if CEO Burroughs had a timeline to close the hospital he’d come to work more. According to his assistant Mr. Burroughs will be at an offsite conference this week. These Cambio Health Solutions guys are on the George Bush attendance plan. If you can mismanage a country working a couple of days a week, there’s no reason you can’t mismanage a hospital on the same schedule.

But I digress there is great news; we’re planning wildcat walkouts. That’s right union employees have begun planning multiple surprise work actions. Workers have basically given up on influencing hospital leaders. We’re going to picket the politicians. That’s right, picture a thousand healthcare workers picketing down at the county board of supervisor’s offices- dawn to dusk. They can’t just send their staff out to say they’re at important meetings- they’ll have to come out to eat or pee. It’s pressure and accountability my favorite approach to incompetent elected officials. Supervisor Alice Lai-Bitker and Gail Steele here we come.

I’m personally quite excited since lately when you come to work at the medical center you may or may not get paid and since our leaders have yet to acknowledge their “security problem” you may or may not get hurt. So cheer up folks, fun is on the way, and remember you don’t have to work at the medical center to come down and picket!

Sunday, September 19, 2004

Let Your Fingers Do the Walking

I took my own advice had a cold one and cooled off. So let’s look at the situation objectively, what’s going on? Well, Cambio Health Solutions on the eve of what the press is calling a gang war, is still proposing to layoff a big piece of the emergency department staff. Nurses continue to quit citing safety, incompetent senior management, heavier patient care loads, and less support staff than other hospitals. The layoffs have been put off so long that many employees have begun to focus on the more immediate problems, like getting paid and avoiding friendly fire.

Our leaders continue unpaying workers, yep, you heard right, medical center employees with direct deposit get their paychecks sucked back and forth in and out of their accounts. Our leaders are pioneering a cutting edge direct withdrawal system. This results in headaches, bounced checks, delayed vacations and piles of overdraft fees. The problem is of such severity and magnitude that even management noticed it. They actually wrote about it, Cambio is busy fixing the “payroll goof.” Golly fellas, in California when you screw up a multimillion dollar payroll, we don’t call it a boo boo, we call it a mistake and since people’s money is being taken without their permission an apology might help.

Personal safety issues eclipsed the medical center’s ongoing problems with layoffs, short staffing, missing payroll and lack of leadership this week. Staff who witnessed the bullet riddled Lincoln crash into the hospital grounds and the dead, dying and shot up young people crawling out of the car, just keep talking about it. They tell you what they saw over and over again. When social work and the chaplain put together a debriefing, for traumatized workers they were scolded for holding an “unauthorized meeting.”

The numerous staff that called Claude Watts and Mike Burroughs about the lack of a preparedness and a security plan, have not gotten responses. Apparently Chief Operating Officer Watts and Chief Executive Officer Burroughs’s gang security plan was to leave early Friday and be out of town for the weekend. Until management puts forward a credible written security plan and shares it with those of us who might get hurt, the Dirt recommends that Highland patients and staff let their fingers do the walking and dial 911 at the first sign of trouble.

Meet the President of the Hospital Authority Board

Vote Health, the coalition of community groups and labor unions who have fought tirelessly and successfully to keep the medical center open is having its monthly meeting. The hospital authority board’s newly elected Commander and Chief Dr. Ted Rose will be the guest speaker. If you’re concerned about the way things are going, come down and give Dr. Ted a piece of your mind. He’s the man.

Monday September 20
7-9 pm
California Nurses Association Offices
2000 Franklin Street, Oakland

If you really must learn more about the medical center and the people and organizations fighting to save it, here are some fun links:

Vote Health : www.votehealth.net
CureACMC: www.cureacmc.org
Service Employees International Union (SEIU) local 250: www.seiu250.org/onthejob/hospitals/acmcupdate.cfm
Service Employees International (SEIU) local 616: www.seiu616.org

RIP Chivo

Rest in peace Chivo, gee thanks Cambio Healthcare Solutions, now we have gang tags (graffiti) on Highland’s sidewalks. Is this a part of that marketing magic we’re paying so much for or is this another “goof.” Did you know “memorials” are being removed all over Oakland because they become crime scenes?

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

I don't know what to say, I'm so upset.

I came into work today to find that three of my friends had nearly been killed when a car full of shot up young people crashed at Highland Hospital, according to the Tribune, probable victims of gang violence. I then was threatened by a group of six young men going up in the elevator to visit a “friend.” When I left the hospital at lunch there were four sheriff’s cars in front of the hospital, they had been called in to break up fights in the lobby.

All day the nursing floors of the hospitals were overrun with “friends” of the victims. I called Mr. Watts, the COO, he was in a meeting and his assistant didn’t know who was in charge. It wasn’t until the security, the sheriffs, and the Board of Supervisors had received dozen of complaints that we began to see security on the nursing floors and an attempt to limit visitors.

After five pm when I was leaving the hospital I saw a fight erupting in the lobby and had to go get security. More “friends” of the victims were parked in cars in the entrance to the hospital and still more were driving around the hospital.

I have worked at Highland for almost twelve years, I have seen a great deal of this kind of violence, but I have never witnessed such a complete failure of leadership and security. No administrator even came around to assess the situation much less manage it.

There are simple measures that can be taken to insure the safety of our patients and staff, since the Oakland Police Department feels this could be gang violence, maybe some executive could be torn away from an important meeting to work with staff on a plan to make sure that Highland does not become a crime scene.

Thank You

It is very saddening to have violence taking center stage again in Oakland, but I am so proud of the exceptional response of Highland's staff to yesterday's tragic shootings. Staff who were nearly killed by the vehicle as it crashed, ran to get gurneys to help out the injured passengers. Nurses and doctors from all over the hospital responded. I am very proud of my friends and co-workers.

Monday, September 06, 2004

“Why Can’t We Be Friends?”

Well, Cambio Health Solutions took another decisive step toward that cliff they keep flirting with. They had close to a thousand employees walk off the job. Those that didn’t walk out the consultants locked out. Negotiations, lay-offs, board meetings, everything except Cambio’s weekly paychecks has ground to a halt. Sure the Board of Trustees and the Alameda County Board of Supervisors are having closed, hot, sweaty, and unproductive meetings, but nothing is happening.

The medical center pays millions for leadership, PR and experts so what do you get when they put their heads together? That’s right, another memo, last week the medical center employees were treated to the, “why can’t we be friends memo.” Arg! Stop, already with the patronizing dribble, it just irritates people. Save a tree! Remember what your mother used to say, “if you don’t have anything good to say, don’t say anything at all!”

The problem with healthcare consultants is that they’re “experts.” Since they’re supposed to know more than the poor slobs they’re sent in to help, they don’t listen. The medical center’s employees have been valiantly trying to explain things to the consultants but they just can’t seem to shut up long enough to hear anything. They have a set game plan, never mind that they’re playing football on a basketball court with a bunch of gymnasts.

The thing about healthcare is that it’s both complex and regional. You cannot ignore the caregivers, the community, the politics, and the services around a hospital and understand your patient’s needs. After nine months the “experts” still don’t understand the medical center’s problems, so they can’t possibly implement a solution.

Simple Solutions for Supervisor Keith Carson

Caregivers have given up on trying to reason with Cambio Health Solutions. They have taken it to the politicians, hundreds of the medical center’s employees and patients have called, visited, or written the Alameda County Board of Supervisors. Supervisors Keith Carson and Alice Lai-Bitker hide in their offices and send out hapless staff members. The coalition of community groups, labor groups, patients and staff who passed Measure “A” are being ignored by the Cambio Health Solutions and the Board of Supervisors.

But don’t despair, the Dirt is listening, it feels your pain and frustration. More importantly it hears the leadership plan emerging from the many voices who fought for Measure “A” and want to see the medical center thrive. So Keith, Buddy, these are four simple steps that will stop walkouts, lockouts, bad press, bad medicine, and those pesky visits from hundreds of union employees.

Get a real CEO for the medical center someone with experience managing a public hospital by December 2004.

Review Cambio Health Solutions performance and make the gruesome details available to the public who voted for Measure “A”.

Delay the layoffs until a real CEO takes over and has time to develop a strategic plan.

Continue to support the medical center financially. You asked the public to support this institution with a sales tax, so lead by example and make good on Measure “A” campaign promises.

I could say more but I don’t want to overwhelm our local leaders.