Commissioner Rebeca Sosa faced questions from the community about the Hospital Governance Taskforce she created that recommended privatizing Jackson during a town hall meeting on Tuesday, August. 16th.
Community members and Jackson employees voiced their concerns about proposed changes to Jackson’s governance structure, which could ultimately cut care for patients.
“I’m very concerned with our ability to provide the same standard of care for everyone in the community,” said Dr. David Woolsey, who has worked at Jackson for the past 25 years. “We wouldn’t be able to do what we do now as a private hospital. The community is hurting and a lot of people depend on Jackson for care.”
He said as a public entity, Jackson’s nurses, doctors and healthcare professionals work as “public servants.” “We move mountains for patients,” he said. “You can’t get that from a private, non-profit contract.”
Jackson currently provides $700 million in charity care, but only receives $350 million in public funding. Woolsey said a private, non-profit hospital is only concerned with the “bottom line” and would have no obligation to provide care beyond what it receives in public funding – as Jackson does now.
“Who will provide the other $350 million in care?” Woolsey asked. “Where will my patients go?”
At the meeting, Sosa suggested that Jackson employees were mainly concerned about the hospital’s future because of their paychecks. “I see you’re facing a real problem. This is your bread-and-butter … your livelihood.”
President Martha Baker, RN, called Sosa’s comments “insulting.” “We can get jobs anywhere,” Baker said. “We care about Jackson because we love our hospital and we love our patients.”
Debra Diaz, CRNA, said, “I’m not worried about my pay check or my retirement. I’m worried about my patients. My colleagues and I give our heart and soul to the Jackson community.”
Baker, the sole dissenting member on the 20-member task force, said the task force’s recommendations were dangerous for Jackson’s future because it gives too much power to an unknown board that could make devastating changes to our hospital – with no public accountability.
“We are giving away the keys to Jackson,” she said. “They could have the power to close Jackson South, close Jackson North, cut services – and with no public input. We should be working toward a primary-care driven model that is more cost-efficient – without giving away the keys.”