An open letter to Dave Regan, president of the Service Employees International Union-United Healthcare Workers West:
Dear Mr. Regan,
I am a nurse at St. Vincent Medical Center, an L.A. hospital run by the Daughters of Charity Health System. I am not a member of your union, although SEIU represents other workers at the hospital. For the past two months, you’ve been trying to convince me that I should oppose the sale of our hospital to Prime Healthcare Services Inc.
You’ve made it clear that you don’t like Prime. You tell me that Prime has a history of ruining all the hospitals it buys, turning them into cash cows for its owner and not caring about the quality of care.
You tell me that if Attorney General Kamala Harris doesn’t reject the sale, Prime will shut down the Daughters hospitals or file for bankruptcy, and that my pension would be gone.
As a nurse, I am detail oriented and a quick thinker, so I decided to see for myself if what you are saying is true.
It turns out, it’s not.
Here’s the truth: Prime has saved 29 struggling hospitals that were on the verge of closure, each time spending millions of dollars on building upgrades and better equipment for patient care.
Prime is a nationally recognized health system founded by a Southern California cardiologist who has developed best-in-the-industry business practices to put hospitals back on their feet financially while maintaining high quality care.
Mr. Regan, take a look at the petition on Change.org asking Harris to approve the sale. It has more than 17,000 signatures, many of them from employees of Prime hospitals who say they are happy to work for the company and that it has fulfilled all the promises it made to workers and their communities. Their hospitals, like mine, were in danger of closing. Prime came in and saved the day.
SEIU 121RN, which represents nurses in our area, and the California Nurses Association support the sale of Daughters’ hospitals to Prime. And so have some of your own union members. Why would they go on record opposing their own leadership? You must not be representing their views very well. I am tired of hearing that you think you are representing the majority of employees at our hospitals. You are not. At St. Vincent’s, there are only about 300 SEIU members, and many do not support the SEIU, its lack of compassion and its unwillingness to keep our hospitals open with Prime.
I’ve read the details of the sale proposal. Prime will continue the charity care mission of our hospitals, honor all union contracts and invest $150 million in capital improvements. Prime has also accepted full responsibility for the pensions of the more than 17,000 union and nonunion workers. From what I know of the other bidders, Prime was the clear choice.
I’m told by people who know you that you’re only opposing the sale to win bargaining concessions at other Prime hospitals. If you’re successful in convincing the attorney general to block the sale, I could lose my job and my community could lose St. Vincent Medical Center.
Mr. Regan, you need to stop opposing our sale to Prime. Listen to the employees who serve our patients every day. Let me and my colleagues continue our mission of care under Prime’s leadership.
The attorney general needs to do the right thing and approve the sale to Prime. Before it’s too late.
Jackye Gammage-Rogers is a cardiac catheterization lab staff nurse at St. Vincent Medical Center.
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