UCSF STANFORD: State Audit Blasts Management
A long-awaited state audit blames UCSF Stanford Health Care management for losses in excess of $46 million and confirms the need for drastic cost-cutting, including "reducing medical school support, shrinking San Francisco's Mt. Zion Hospital and merging clinical departments," the San Jose Mercury News reports. Although the system "continue[s] to provide high-quality patient care," the report concludes that its "long-term future is dependent upon whether it implements all the cost-saving measures and clinical consolidations" recommended by the Hunter Group, a consulting firm that has assumed day-to-day operations of the system since the August resignation of two top officials. The audit did concede that losses would have been even greater had the two health care groups remained autonomous. State Sen. Jackie Speier (D-Daly City) blasted the system, stating, "On every imaginable measure, the merger has failed. In reality, they've never merged. It's still looked upon as two institutions." The merger, originally intended to save costs by consolidating services, has been "caught by surprise" by the rising medical costs and lower payments from insurers. Deputy state auditor Philip Jelicich says, "When you look as the first two years of the merger, there is no question it was very rocky, but if they do those (corrections), which were planned at the outset of the merger anyway, then the next two years could be rosy." Among the recommendations, the report calls for further employee layoffs and the shutting down of Mt. Zion hospital's inpatient services (Krieger/Jordan, 9/1).
Labor Day Protest
Putting an ironic twist on the Labor day holiday, 33 of UCSF Stanford Health Care hospital workers staged a rally and sit-down protest as part of an ongoing effort to "win a labor contract with salaries that reflect seniority and annual wage increases," the San Jose Mercury News reports. Workers -- mainly form service and patient care jobs at the hospital -- voted in November for union representation, but have not been recognized by the hospital. Speaking to protestors, Linda Chavez-Thompson, executive vice president of the national AFL-CIO, said, "[W]e're not going to tolerate it. It's time for Stanford to recognize the union." Many public officials, including State Assembly member Mike Honda (D-San Jose) made an appearance to show support for the workers. He said that hospitals "have been allowed to create their unions. But they're not allowing workers to create a union." Protesters were arrested and fined a $76 traffic infraction for a blocking a roadway (Krieger, 9/7).