A half-dozen Miami-Dade female leaders and dozens of supporters flooded a Jackson Health System board meeting Tuesday to object to executives’ plans to explore the possibility of privatizing medical staffing in the emergency rooms and the rape treatment center.
State Sen. Gwen Margolis decried the effort as “absolutely incredible. ... We are very very very concerned.”
Chief Executive Carlos Migoya announced last month that Jackson would seek bids from outside companies to see if it made sense financially for third-party medical staffs to handle emergency room operations at Jackson’s three hospitals and the Roxcy Bolton Rape Treatment Center.
Migoya pointed out that at the time that Jackson executives might ultimately discover that it made more sense to keep staffing in-house, such as happened with inmate healthcare after a lengthy bidding process. On Tuesday Migoya said that the rape center’s social workers and victim advocates would continue to be Jackson employees, even if medical care was out-sourced.
The center is named after Bolton, who for decades was the county’s leading feminist. Bolton, 86, appeared at the meeting to voice her opposition to out-sourcing care.
Board members took no action Tuesday on the bid process, which still has several months to run. Board member Darryl Sharpton said he had “grave concerns” about the outsourcing.
SEIU Local 1991, which represents Jackson’s healthcare professionals, has pointed out that Jackson’s own studies show 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.
Jackson spokesman Edwin O’Dell last week acknowledged those numbers were right. “That’s why we’re seeking bids for all the ERs,” he said.
Many hospitals hire outside companies to provide the doctors and advanced nurse practitioners to staff their ERs. Jackson is also contemplating outsourcing its billing and collections operations.
At Tuesday’s meeting, Miami-Dade County Commissioner Barbara Jordan said she “went ballistic” when Migoya told her by phone that he would seek outsourcing bids. “Jackson’s mission has always been a single standard of care regardless of ability to pay. ... I would certainly hate to see that mantra diminished by privatization.”
Michelle Dunaj Lucking, chair of the Miami-Dade Commission for Women, wrote Jackson board members a two-page memo, detailing the commission’s concerns about changing the rape center, including possible problems gathering forensic evidence.
Kit Rafferty, a commission member, said she was concerned outsourcing “would mean someone would profit from someone being raped.”
Former County Commissioner Larry Hawkins warned the board to consider what Miami-Dade voters might think about the outsourcing bids because Jackson will eventually need public support for a bond issue to fund hundreds of millions of dollars needed for construction and repair projects.