Public opposes HGT recommendations at Commissioner Sally Heyman’s Townhall Meeting

Community members packed a Jackson North auditorium to hear about the Hospital Governance Taskforce’s recommendation to privatize Jackson during an Aug. 3rd townhall meeting hosted by Commissioner Sally Heyman. Nearly all spoke out against the taskforce’s recommendations.

“How will our community have some kind of guarantee that they’ll receive the level of care they are receiving now?” Minerva Albright, RN, a Jackson employee, asked taskforce members after they presented their recommendations to change Jackson’s governance structure. Albright pointed out that Jackson currently gives out about $700 million in charity care each year and those services may be jeopardized if Jackson is taken out of the public’s hands.

President Martha Baker, RN, the sole dissenting member on the 20-member Hospital Governance Task Force established by Commissioner Rebeca Sosa, drew attention to one crucial recommendation (#15). It states that Jackson’s proposed new governing board would have the authority to make several decisions that could drastically alter Jackson, but without any public input, including:

• Making decisions regarding growth or reduction of medical services
• Developing and establishing policies
• Establishing by-laws
• and more…

To see the Task Force’s 18 recommendations, click here.
“How can we have any accountability?” Baker said. “The public will have nothing to do with it.”

Task Force member Steven Marcus, who is President and CEO of the Health Foundation of South Florida, supported the recommendations and said Jackson’s “governance is in shambles.”

Baker countered that Jackson’s operations must be fixed – not its governance structure. “Governance and operations are two separate things,” she said.

Community-based physician Dr. Bernd Wollschlaeger said that privatizing Jackson could mean risking his patients’ lives. He said Jackson is special because “there is no white, black, rich or poor” as far patients, he said. “Only care for people who need it.”

Dr. Wollschlaeger said many of his patients are good, hardworking people who can’t afford healthcare. When his patients are suffering from liver or breast cancer, he knows he can send them to Jackson to receive the care they need.

“Jackson is an option that I need as a community-based physician,” he said. “If you privatize Jackson, it will be a death blow for people in need. This is our lifeline to care. What will I tell my patients, go home and die?”

Dr. Bernd Wollschlaeger said privatizing Jackson would be a “death blow” to his patients.

Member Corrine Fraser, RN, asked task force members: “Are you committed to keeping Jackson a public health system?”

Local 1991 Vice President Sam Ruiz, RN, asked why the task force was made up of so many Jackson competitors, including Baptist, Miami Children’s Hospital, Kendall Regional Medical Center, Mt. Sinai Medical Center and Mercy Hospital.