NEW YORK NURSE: May 2013
By Anne Bové, MSN, RN, BC, CCRN, ANP
If you want a glimpse of how for-profit hospitals respond to crisis, look at Hurricane Katrina.
Tenet, a for-profit hospital chain, operated ten hospitals in the New Orleans area. When flood waters entered Memorial Medical Center, staffers were forced to stage their own evacuation, with no support from Tenet’s executives.
They had no choice but to abandon patients in their beds with big doses of morphine.
Compare that to how our HHC system responded to Sandy – a storm of comparable damage and intensity.
At Bellevue, Coney Island, and Coler, we evacuated more than 1,000 critical and acute-care patients, through darkened corridors and stairwells. We evacuated dozens of newborns attached to ventilators.
Not one patient was left behind. Not one patient died.
For-profit hospital chains fail our patients. That’s why HHC nurses were in the lead in our successful fight against the for-profit takeover of New York patient care.
Letting for-profit hospital chains invade New York would be a direct attack on our public hospital system.
HHC is our city’s healthcare safety-net. We never turn a patient away.
If you don’t have a name, we give you one. No birth date, no problem. No insurance, we will take care of you, no matter what.
Our public hospital system is already under stress. The Mayor is not giving us the staffing our patients need – and he is trying to block us from recruiting and retaining the next generation of talented nurses.
The for-profit takeover would make that even worse. For-profits would try to cut services for “unprofitable” patients – like pediatric care. And they would try to poach away our insured patients.
They would make it even easier for anti-union politicians to attack and slash our public hospital system.
We can’t let that happen.
We won round one of this fight.
Even Stephen Berger, the investment banker who has done so much to let for-profits take over New York patient care, told the New York Times “This will make it much harder.”
But he warned: “It doesn’t mean we’re not going to find a way to work around it.”
Our opponents are gearing up for round two of this fight.
We need to keep gearing up, too. The future of our public hospital system – and New York patient care – is on the line.