The Measure of a Man

The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.



- Martin Luther King, Jr.



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Tuesday, January 13, 2009

HCA: Profit and Greed on the backs of their workforce.

This is a bulletin I recently received from the CNA showing how HCA is once again stiffing the worker while lining their own pockets and getting richer off the backs of their dedicated workforce. It is very enlightening but not surprising.

HCA Execs Getting Wealthier
Many HCA RNs are reeling from the loss of retirement security resulting from the company’s decision to eliminate their pension and transfer their earnings to a 401(k) which has seen losses of up to 40%. For some this means putting off their retirement – for others it spells financial doom. Some HCA hospitals are laying off ancillary workers, trimming the hours of part-timers and reducing use of more-expensive temporary nurses hired through agencies. Recently we told you that, in Tennessee, HCA is cutting 110 jobs and closing most functions at its Portland hospital, laying off roughly 100 headquarters staffers, and at Centennial Hospital eliminating RN raises, the night shift differential and decreasing RN holiday pay.
So what are the top administrators of HCA doing to shoulder their share of the burden? HCA tells us these cuts –and the ones to come – are absolutely necessary. But a simple review of HCA’s SEC filings reveals that a number of recent, large transactions have boosted the networth of a cadre of upper echelon HCA executives.
Leading off the movement to exercise stock options was:
Joseph N Steakley, Senior VP of Internal Audit Services who cashed in some stock options this week, walking away with $170,088 in cash. He still holds 17,027 more shares so expect to see him add a healthy chunck of change to his net worth soon.
Western Group President Samuel Hazen last month gave up 14,151 shares leaving him with a paper gain of $432,000.
Next up the line was Senior Vice President Vic Campbell who excercised 55,215 shares generating more than $800,000.
CFO Milton Johnson excercised his option to buy 87,180 shares. His net worth gain: $1.4 million.
And truly leading the pack was General Counsel Robert Waterman who acquired 1.78 million worth of shares for a paper profit of $2.2 million.
All told the group boosted its networth by roughly 4.9 million dollars.
Anyone still buying the line that we all need to sacrifice during these tough economic times? It’s very clear that those of us who are paying the price are doing so to the benefit of others.

Read the full story. This link will take you to the Nashville news paper article where the information above was sourced from.

10 comments:

  1. These actions by HCA executives are exactly why health care is NOT a usual capitalistic business. Anyone's health should be worth more than the most expensive auto, television, software, etc. Health care is treated like any commodity. I hope most will join me in SHOUTING, it is not. HCA and the other corporations are only out to satisfy the shareholders and themselves, not the product which is people. What is the difference between what is going on with health care now and slavery 150 years ago? If you can pay the price you can own yourself.

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  2. I heard there is a rally in Las Vegas against HCA next week. Has anyone heard about this? I would like to go!!!

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  3. HCA paid a 1.75 billion dividend. Is there any question where the priorities are for this company??

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  4. Healthcare is becoming more business driven. People already shop and review their chosen doctors and hospitals based on customer satisifaction. Where, how, who and of you receive healthcare in this country is a choice and while you may have limited choices you do still have choices! Customer service and following a business model is a very practical approach to medicine. It is where things are headed if Medicine is not socialized. Private healthcare is about having choices. If a patient chooses to go to a for profit hospital they do it because of the care hey are lookig to receive.
    So unless you think it's a wise ideal to socialize medicine, the capitalist approach Is the best one.

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  5. I dont believe this for one minute! These poor executives come to work every day from 9-5, have to take an hour off at lunch, and leave on time. You couldnt pay me enough to do that! They get stuck working all week, and never get the joy of working a weekend, or have to leave a family function or arrive late on holidays.....are you guys sick! Who would want to live like that? There isnt enough stock options in the world to make me take a job that doesnt carry the risk of getting covered in feces or urine. How do you call living a MRSA free life even worth living? Whatever, they earn every dollar of that money........rrrrrriiiiinnnnnggggggg.....oh there goes the alarm clock, time to wake up. What a strange dream I had.

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  6. I agree with part of what Nurse Brittney posted. Patients are consumers and do make choices every day on who provides their care. Their choices are however often limited by their insurance plans. I can choose to pay more for care at a non participating provider or non participating hospital but I would say that is not really a choice at all. I pay thousands for coverage that tells me who I can see, unless I want to pay more. That is not a choice for most of us. The rich have options and the poor have little to none. Capitalism and health care do not mix. The poorest of us and those with no insurance have no real choice in the matter and the outcome data shows that they suffer for that lack of choice and access.

    If I am having a heart attack or an emergency of most any kind I will usually end up at the most local hospital and that makes sense but to say that is choice is false.

    I support the idea of all Americans having insurance that allows them to make that choice and even better would be a universal system that allows all of us to choose who and where we recieve medical services.

    Very few patients use hospitals outside their own community so choice is largely directed by locality.

    Hospitals do not post their medical error rate, their staffing ratios, their close call numbers, their rates of hospital infections, their fall numbers, and the experiance levels of their staff. I have witnessed as a nurse many situations that if the general public was aware would change their opinion of a given facility. If a nurse was to publish accounts of these situations and outcomes they would be fired. The goal of for profit health care is to make profit and not disclosing the issues that I have listed above is part of protecting that profit stream. This means that consumers are making choices based on false data and incomplete information and that makes their choice one of uninformed consent.

    Thank you Brittney for your comments.

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  7. I work at an HCA facility and I can tell you that Administration has stuck the screws to us. Last year, they took away our 3p-7p shift diff which doesn't sound like a lot, but for most of the nurses on my floor, it was between 3k to 5k a year. Their rationale? Tough times, and between those hours, it is a little slower. Then they took a 12 hour staffer from us. I would like to know how they know it 'is a little slower' btw the hours of 3-7 since they never make rounds. We have lose excellent workers due to the fact that they needed the money. They are so budget-minded that if we are one person away from needing a staff person, they will put that person on call until we reach the 'magic number.' Then they end up paying them call and callback. They spend millions fixing up the outside of the hospital, yet, our nurses stations have missing drawer, banged up walls, ripped wallpaper; nothing has been done to fix our areas of work in over 10 years. It is very frustrating to go to work and not have enough space to just sit down and do your documentation. And then to hear that these people are walking away with millions of dollars. Shameful.

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  8. HCA has always been a for profit company. They operate on the following business tactics: 1) control at least 60% of the beds available,allowing them to pay the employees as little as possible and charging the patient's a premium (semi-monoploly,only game in town) 2) operate the hospital with a cash flow profit of 13-15% of revenues (most hospital have a profit of 1-3%)see ahd.com for examples and 3)increase profit in the network of local hospital by self refferal, done by intimidating both medical and nursing staff. It's a semi-monopoly without ethics and drive by profits. They do not care about the community only the bottom line.

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  9. I am a former ICU nurse at one of the HCA hospitals. The staffing was typically three patients, no techs, no secretaries. No matter how much we stated we were understaffed, we were told that "extra staff was not in the budget." We were instructed to falsify charting to reflect that patients were receiving proper care. I have spoken to many nurses about this issue. It appears to be an accepted practice nationwide if you want to keep your job. How unfortunate. During my employment at HCA I witnessed unimaginable patient suffering and unnecessary deaths due to understaffing. I told administration that they jeopardize the patient's lives and our licenses every day. I spoke up and even wrote certified e mails to administration only to be strongly cautioned as to what I say if I wanted to keep my job. They even went into my e mails and deleted them as if I never sent them. I'm glad I made copies. I had no recourse within HCA. We were told to sign a pre-filled form stating who we gave report to when we went to lunch and break when in fact we never went to lunch or break. When the charge nurse came by to have us sign we would tell her,"You know we didn't get lunch or break today." Her usual reply was, "I know. You also know I will get in trouble with administration if you don't sign it." Everyone signed so she wouldn't get into trouble. I finally had enough when a patient that came to us had been so neglected that she literally rotted to death in our facility. I know this to be a fact as I contacted the family and have since reviewed every page of her medical record. I know what actually happened and I know the things that were covered up in the chart. This put me on a quest to begin to change our health care system. I have since contacted several families about how there loved ones were really treated and the real conditions surrounding their deaths. I have signed releases from the families to review the medical records and use their loved ones information publicly to inform the general public. I have contacted a Congressman, worked with a medical fraud instructor contracted with FBI-we found upcoding and Medicare fraud, spoken with a fraud investigator with the Attorney General's office, and published a book to help protect patients when they enter the hospital. I am currently writing my second book: Swept Under The Rug...Horror Stories From The Other Side Of The Bed. These are all true accounts of abuse, neglect, and medical fraud..mostly at the HCA hospital where I worked. I have since took a position as a Director of Clinical Services and Administrator. This really opened my eyes to how administration and bottom line budgets increase profits on the backs of their employees. I left after three months when I was instructed to back date information and also informed of how the company "faked clients" to obtain their Medicare license. I used to think administration didn't care about their employees. Now I know they don't. When I feel it is safe to post my contact information, I will do so. We all need to take a stand for better care for our patients and ourselves.

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  10. This is an excellent resource, however I do not understand why the font is white with a white background? SDS Glasgow

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My Story

My Story


I have been a nurse for just over ten years. I earned my degree with the support of my wife and financial assistance for the GI bill. I was drawn to the profession of nursing after a brief exposure to an advanced course in field triage while serving in the army. I find the human body fascinating and am always learning. I also was attracted to the profession for all the usual reasons that bring people to the profession of nursing. I enjoy the reward of giving to my fellow man.

I believe that health care and the advocacy of safe care is the foundation of nursing that was started by our founders like Florence Nightingale. Our practice act calls for our profession to advocate for our patients and against practices that puts their safety in jeopardy.

The healthcare industry has for the last twenty plus years constructed an environment to maximize profits at the expense of patient safety and our profession. We as nurses have stood by fairly quit and allowed for this to happen.

Recently, I and others voiced concerns related to patient safety and working conditions at Summit Hospital a hospital owned by Healthcare Corporation of America. Our issues included the working of nurse with approximately six month of experience for more than twenty four hours straight. This particular nurse did volunteer to work these hours but in my opinion should not have been ask to do so. She is a great nurse for her limited experience but put her license and the safety of her patients at risk that night. The manager of the unit failed her and the patients in her charge. Study after study has shown that the error rate goes off the chart after twelve hours. I and fifteen other nurses also expressed to management our concerns over the floating policies that were sending unqualified nurses to our unit. We noted several instances were these nurse made errors that put the patient in potential jeopardy. We also expressed our concerns over ratios of 3 to 1 becoming the norm in the unit when 2 to 1 is considered the norm in intensive care across most of the country.

We submitted these concerns in writing and signed by sixteen nurses from our unit. Management responded by holding meetings with a group of employees that they chose and their representatives which included the director of HR, our unit manager and the director of nursing. The meetings at their start gave us some hope that our issues might be taken seriously and dealt with. It was soon apparent that would not be the case and these meetings quickly moved away from our issues to their issues. They would agree that their were problems but would not put any solutions into writing, stating that they needed to be able to remain flexible and made statements like we will try instead of we will.



At around this same time I was informed of an organization called the NNOC or National Nurses Organizing Committee, http://www.calnurses.org/nnoc/about-nnoc.html that was holding meetings in the Nashville area to organize nurses to advocate for patients and against many of the problems that I expressed above. I met with their organizer and felt that their movement was something that I could support. I became a member of the NNOC and began attending meetings on a regular basis. I also began placing invitations to attend meetings in the break room of my unit and speaking with interested coworkers, while on break, about the need to organize and advocate for our patients and our profession.

After a short period of time I was ask by my manager about my involvement with the NNOC and my desire to form a union at Summit Hospital. I did not deny my association and did not hide my opinion as to why I felt that organizing was needed. I also informed them that I had the right as outlined in the National Labor Relation Act. The nursing staff at Summit was then subjected to mandatory anti union meetings and letter sent to our homes and to our email accounts at work. I was required to attend meetings with the hospital attorney and informed that because I was a charge nurse I was considered management and could not associate with the NNOC. I contested that I was a member of management but submitted to their demands to end my association with the NNOC. I never attended another meeting or recruited for the cause after that meeting. I did however continue to operate a blog, http://nurseadvocates.blogspot.com/ , that advocated for reform of the healthcare system and employee rights to organize. I did not use computers at work for this endeavor and did not use my real name on the blog or use any other names that would tell a reader where I worked or who I worked for.

I was ultimately terminated from Summit Medical Center on June 11th, 2008 for what I was told was the operation of a blog. I was given no specifics of what about the blog was grounds for my termination despite my asking. I appealed my termination through the hospitals employment dispute resolution process, attempting to get clarification as to what about my blog was cause for my termination. The peer panel dispute process was a sham. The panel as outlined by the hospitals policy was to be made up of my peers, who were “not familiar with the problem or have a close relationship with any of the parties involved”. The panel was anything but and was made up of persons who had expressed an open hostility to my rights to organize and to freely associate with the NNOC in the past. Two of the panel members were charge nurses from the ER also under the supervision of my manager, who had terminated me. These two persons were also at the meeting with the hospitals attorney and expressed anti union sentiment. Another panel member was a person who was well aware of my personal views related to unions and the right to organize and had been present at private settings outside the hospital were I had expressed my opinions related to the issues that started all this. This puts three of the five panel members in clear violation of the policy. I then was refused the right to seek any clarification as to what about the blog was grounds for my termination despite that being the stated reason for the panel. I was not given the right to hear the reasons as stated by my manager and the director of HR.



I am writing this because I believe that my fundamental right to due process has been violated. This is a right to work state and right or wrong that gives Summit the right to do as the please when it comes to hiring and firing of employees but most people believe and Summit attempts to mislead their employees that they are fair and just when it comes to matters of employee issues.

If Summit is allowed to get away with this and is not challenged then patients are at risk. Health care workers need to be free to advocate for safety for their patients and if they are scared into submission then patients will suffer.


Join me in fighting for our rights to free association and to advocate for our patients as our practice act requires. Support the employee free choice act, http://www.freechoiceact.org/page/s/aflcio and send a message to Summit and other corporate bullies that feel you are entitled to the rights they give you and nothing more.
Also visit sited like Leap for Safety and support petitions to mandate stronger legislation that will ensure a safer environment. Visit http://www.leapforpatientsafety.org/ to get involved.

I truly believe that our healthcare system is in dire trouble and we as nurses have a responsibility to get involved. Please join the fight. Your family may one day depend on what we do today.

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