Our union celebrates a huge victory on Thursday, July 8th, after county commissioners voted to keep Jackson South’s OB Unit open, overturning the PHT Board’s previous decision to close our vitally important maternity center.
Local 1991 members and community supporters packed the commission meeting to protest the unit’s closing, which the PHT Board approved despite objections from our union, employees and the community.
President Martha Baker, RN, told commissioners that closing the unit was “bad for patients, violates our mission and is bad for our bottom line.”
She added that our union’s leadership and operational experts have met with Jackson’s administrators to present valid facts on why the maternity unit should be saved, “but they were dead-set on their decision.”
Commissioners were angry and stunned that such a major decision was made without their input. Chairman Dennis C. Moss said he fought hard to get a public hospital in his district and that an OB unit is essential to a safety net hospital.
“I represent South Dade and no one asked me to speak to me until after the decision was made,” he told Jackson’s administrators, including CEO Dr. Eneida Roldan and PHT Vice Chairman Angel Medina. “I’m astounded that you continue to make these mistakes over and over again. I’m tired of having to go back and try to help pick of the pieces after decisions have been made that have not been well thought out.”
Commissioner Katy Sorenson said the OB’s unit’s 24/7 midwife coverage and low C-section rates have not been publicized enough to the community. “I think if women knew of [Jackson South’s] low C-section rates, they would want to go there,” she said.
Added Commissioner Barbara Jordan: “We’ve got to let the community know about our business in order for them to use our services. There’s only one Jackson South that’s a public hospital. There’s only one. We need to make sure that we are committed to the mission of what it’s intended to do. Taking OB out should not be an option that the [PHT] board should even entertain and I’m shocked that it has.”
Our union’s operational experts, The Sibery Group, gave a presentation to commissioners on the many reasons why Jackson’s administrators made a poor decision to close Jackson South’s OB Unit. (See the presentation HERE.)
“Cutting services to the most vulnerable community needs to be vetted … and none of that was done with this initiative,” said Duane Fitch, The Sibery Group’s Senior Partner. “If we are trying to rebuild the confidence of Jackson South it would seem inconsistent to pluck away at very important services there.”
Fitch offered several recommendations for saving the OB unit, including recruiting additional OBs, better marketing of the unit’s capabilities, improved billing practices and getting continual feedback from the community.
“It’s easy to just cut our losses and to give up,” Fitch said. “This is an opportunity to show the Jackson community and employees that we have confidence in our ability to work through an issue like this.”
Thanks to Miami-Dade commissioners for stopping a decision that would’ve been detrimental to our public hospital and community. This victory is a result of our members, especially those at Jackson South, our union leadership and operational experts working together on behalf of our patients! Jackson South midwives Carina Ryder and Julia Dean, who attended the commission meeting, were very instrumental in leading the unit’s effort to save Jackson South OB.