2012

MNA responds to UMass Med Center layoffs, sale of home health services

03.15.2012

From the Massachusetts Nurse Newsletter
February/March 2012 Edition

UMass Memorial Medical Center (UMMMC), despite posting profits in excess of $150 million in the last three years, announced recently that it plans to sell off its home health and hospice services and lay off hundreds of other staff. Shortly after, the MNA/NNU issued a statement announcing it was dismayed by this shortsighted decision as the home health and hospice program is one of the most important services for effectively managing the care of patients under the new health reform law. With proper care at home, patients are kept out of the hospital, which dramatically reduces costs, and will allow the system to be more profitable in the long term.

The MNA sees no justification for the layoff of any staff or for the loss of any services in this system, as UMMMC is one of the most profitable health care systems in the state. Nurses and support staff have been struggling under current staffing levels to deliver the care patients need.

Prior to announcing the layoffs and reorganization of services for patients by UMMMC, CEO John O’Brien reported in the Worcester Business Journal that the hospitals and home health program in the system were not the problem and were meeting their budgetary goals. It was UMMMC’s poor investment decisions and risky business ventures that were the problem—not to mention the millions it spent on consultants and administrators.

Other UMMMC highlights include:

  • Though hospitals are facing pressure from insurers, government and businesses to reduce costs, the UMass system’s five hospitals were not the problem in 2011. For the most part, they met or slightly exceeded revenue projections while trimming spending on expenses and supplies.
  • UMass Medical Center in Worcester accounts for more than half of the system’s revenues. And while it posted its lowest surplus in years, it met budget projections.
  • For UMass, the problem was a $29.7 million swing in its investment portfolio which ended the year down $10 million, the first such loss in years combined with a deficit in its formerly profitable health ventures arm. UMass Memorial Health Ventures provides lab testing, imaging and other services to hospitals and medical groups in several states.
  • Partnerships with Fairlawn Rehabilitation Hospital, imaging centers and other facilities are a part of the Ventures portfolio, which earned $27.8 million for the system in 2010, but lost $1.1 million in 2011.
  • One day after the hospital announced the massive layoffs, it was revealed in the media that UMass would be required by the attorney general to pay a half-million dollar judgment as a result of the hospital’s bone marrow scam that was first exposed in 2010. That scam involved the Caitlin Raymond International Registry and UMass Memorial Health Ventures Inc. jointly engaging in improper marketing by paying fashion models to help recruit potential registrants for the National Marrow Donor Program during donor drives at local malls, festivals and sporting events.

The MNA is working with local policymakers and the media to voice its concerns and opposition to these developments. Visit massnurses.org for details on upcoming actions or related news.

FPO