RNs Rally Today at Berkeley Hospital to Protest Cuts
High Executive Pay, High Patient Charges at Sutter Alta Bates As Hospital Pushes Major New Cuts for Patients, Nurses
Registered nurses at Sutter’s Alta Bates Summit Medical Center will hold a large protest today to protest what they say are wildly misplaced priorities as the hospital hands out huge pay increases for top executives and sets hospital charges at well beyond their cost while pushing major cuts for patients and registered nurses.
What: Picket by Alta Bates Summit RNs protesting cuts
When: Wednesday, January 15, 2014 - 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. – Rally at 11:30 a.m.
Where: Alta Bates Medical Center, 2450 Ashby, Berkeley
Sutter’s East Bay Regional President David Bradley received pay increases of 64 percent, 43 percent and 19 percent the last three years, 2010 through 2012, and now draws a salary of just under $2 million a year, according to Sutter IRS filings.
Alta Bates Summit CEO Chuck Prosper was given pay increases of 32 percent and 40 percent in 2010 and 2011 (no data yet reported for 2012); as of 2011, prior to moving from chief operating officer to CEO of Alta Bates, his salary was over $600,000.
Sutter’s system wide Chief Executive Officer Pat Fry received a 22 percent in 2012 from 2011, pushing his annual pay package to $6,393,883 – or a daily pay rate of $24,592.
Sutter and Alta Bates Summit also sets patient care charges at far beyond its costs. ABSMC’s Oakland hospital levies average charges at $503 for every $100 of costs, five times over its total costs. ABSMC’s Berkeley hospital sets charges at $411 for every $100 of costs. By comparison, the county-run Alameda County Medical Center charges just $229 for $100 of its costs.
In contrast, the hospitals is seeking to push through a new round of major cuts in patient care services, including plans to close an inpatient infusion center, an inpatient skilled nursing facility, and an inpatient oncology unit, which provides care for cancer patient at the Oakland hospital.
The inpatient infusion center would be shifted to a for-profit outpatient cancer facility owned by Alta Bates at its Herrick facility in Berkeley which is run with non-union RNs working in a non-acute care setting with lesser standards, lower pay and no protection against retaliation for patient advocacy.
The patients in the skilled nursing unit will simply be discharged into nursing homes in the future, even though many of them still have critical patient care needs that can not be met by lesser staffed nursing home facilities.
Concurrently, Alta Bates plans to conduct a unilateral, sweeping restructuring of registered nurse positions, as part of hospital wide restructuring scheme demanding demanding RNs rebid on newly created positions that may come with very few hours, causing RNs to lose health coverage, pensions, sick leave, or vacation time.
"We already have critical short-staffing of RNs and ancillary staff in many units,” says Ann Gaebler, RN a neo-natal intensive care unit RN at Alta Bates, Berkeley. "I have been an RN here for 32 years and I've never seen anything like this,” Gaebler said.
Oakland RN Mike Hill notes the infusion center, where patients receive a variety of medications through intravenous drips is a “very busy, and very profitable unit. It’s now going to a facility where there are poorer conditions with no protections for the nurses if they want to speak out for patient safety, have to work often without breaks, and are paid less.”
The elimination of the skilled nursing unit is being carried out, Hill charged, because Sutter Alta Bates simply “doesn’t want to take care of these patients who are not very profitable, and will just farm them out to nursing homes who can’t handle the dressing changes or other complex care these patients who should still be in a hospital setting for care need.”
“All of these changes show what Alta Bates and Sutter most care about, it’s all about profits,” Hill said.
Sutter has been steadily slashing services at hospitals around the region. The latest cuts can be added to a recent and extensive list of cuts just at Alta Bates Summit.
That list includes closures of the Cardiac Cath unit at the Berkeley campus, the Pulmonary Sub-Acute unit at the Herrick campus, the Antepartum testing unit at Summit, Inpatient Infusion unit at Herrick, cuts in adolescent and geriatric psychiatric beds, and the discontinuation of bone marrow transplants and breast cancer screenings at the Alta Bates campus.