RNs, Caregivers Blast Priorities at Palomar Health District
Rip Closures, Layoffs While CEO Handed $160,000 Bonus
94% of Palomar Staff Have “No Confidence” in District Leadership
Registered Nurses and other caregivers have taken a vote of “no confidence” in the management of the Palomar and Pomerado hospitals and are calling on the Palomar Health District to act immediately to change course from a path of closures and cuts while giving huge cash and contract awards to chief executive officer Michael Covert and other executives.
In just concluded voting by 1,345 hospital employees, 94 percent of Palomar Health RNs and ancillary workers said they have no confidence or trust in the district’s executive leadership, 96 percent said the district had exhibited poor fiscal responsibility, 95 percent said the executive leadership had failed to share the financial pain inflicted on other employees, and 90 percent pledged to take a more active role in fighting to save the district “for our patients, our community and our families.”
Palomar is preparing to close a skilled nursing facility, implemented dozens of staff layoffs, and is demanding huge cuts in employee health coverage and retirement security – all while handing Covert a $160,000 “performance award” bonus and a new four-year contract. The San Diego U-T reported in February that Covert was the second highest paid public official in the entire state – for the third year in a row.
"Palomar Health Registered Nurses warned against extravagant and out of touch actions the board has taken in awarding bonuses to executives. We're continuing to call on the board to scale back executive bonuses in the face of austerity measures that affect bedside nurses, patient and the community," says Palomar RN Sue Phillips.
Employees of the district are represented by the California Nurses Association/National Nurses United and Caregivers and Healthcare Employees Union (CHEU), a CNA affiliate.
The survey was conducted after CNA and CHEU presented protest cards from 1,500 employees to the May district board meeting, and then packed a meeting July 8 of the district to to emphatically press their concerns and call for a new direction in the district.
“A year ago, at this time, we had plenty of money. Less than a year later, Palomar’s leaders say the organization is broke and the backbone of the institution, the workers, have been forced to endure two rounds of layoffs, the closing of Palomar Continuing Care Center, proposals to cut our pensions and health care benefits, a dysfunctional workplace, and poor leadership,” said Pacita Balcom, CHEU president told the district board.
“Palomar Health’s resources must be directed toward patients and those who care for the patients,” said Balcom, a Certified Nursing Assistant at Palomar.