Representatives of Miami-Dade’s law enforcement and firefighter unions gathered in front of the Ryder Trauma Center at Jackson Memorial Hospital Wednesday announcing their opposition to a proposed plan to privatize parts of Jackson’s emergency room services.
Last month, Jackson Health System’s chief executive, Carlos Migoya, announced that Jackson was seeking bids from outside companies for third-party medical staffs to handle emergency room operations at Jackson’s three hospitals and the Roxcy Bolton Rape Treatment Center.
There are a total of 55 emergency room staff positions being considered for outsourcing including full-time doctors and nurses and part-time physicians.
Several union leaders, voicing support for Jackson Memorial ER staff and services, highlighted the need for a public hospital dedicated to treating low-income patients. Some speakers also worried that privatization would lead to a lower quality of care.
“I don’t want to see the day when patients have nowhere to go simply because they can’t pay for it,” said Rowan Taylor, president of the Metro-Dade International Association of Firefighters.
Peter Newman, a spokesman for the Dade County Police Benevolent Association, also expressed the importance of Jackson’s emergency service to local law enforcement.
“Being a police officer or a correctional officer is a very dangerous job in Dade county," Newman said. “When our members are shot or critically injured, they are always rushed to Jackson ER.”
Martha Baker, a nurse at Jackson Memorial ER and president of SEIU Local 1991, which represents Jackson’s healthcare professionals, pointed to a recent third-party survey that showed patient satisfaction in the ERs of Jackson Memorial and Jackson South, staffed by system employees, is far higher than at Jackson North, where an outside company provides ER services.
“It violates our mission,” said Baker. “We’re afraid there will be a gat keeper who’s a profiteer.”
Jackson Memorial spokesman Edwin O’Dell acknowledged the accuracy of the independent survey, but said that low patient satisfaction at Jackson North is why all emergency rooms are being considered in this proposal.
O’Dell also stressed that the request for proposals from third-party medical staff is a fact-finding process and not a finalized plan.
“Our mission is not changing and will not be compromised,” O’Dell said. “We are not going to hire someone who’s not going to treat our patients the way we want them to be treated.”