RNs to Salinas Health System: Time for a New Board

RNs to Salinas Health System: Time for a New Board, Audit Unveils Lavish Exec Payouts, Financial Conflicts

CALIFORNIA–(ENEWSPF)–March 9, 2012.  Following disclosure of a highly critical audit, the California Nurses Association/National Nurses United yesterday called on Salinas Valley Health System Board majority to resign, and the nurses said the public district should to “stop acting like Wall Street bankers and the 1 percent with lavish executive payouts, dubious conduct, and poor public accountability.”

An audit of the public district today outlined a record of excessive executive severance packages, violations of conflict of interest and public meeting laws and failure to disclose the process of handing out lucrative consultant contracts.

“What this audit exposes is gross mismanagement and an out of control public system which is modeling itself after the worst practices of Wall Street and rogue actors in the private healthcare system,” said DeAnn McEwen Co-President of CNA, which represents 700 RNs at Salinas.

“This board has shown it no longer deserves the confidence of public. Only a newly elected board of directors can bring the community trust and transparency so badly required, one that does not just rubber stamp poor practices by hospital officials.”

“Only then will they demonstrate greater accountability to the public and patients they are supposed to serve, and begin to have a meaningful dialogue with the community about the future of a precious resource, the public hospital,” said McEwen. 

Among key findings by the audit:

• A former CEO, who retired in April, received $4.9 million in retirement and severance payments, on top of a $668,000 salary in 2011.

• The health system failed to meet reporting requirements on economic interests affecting hospital consultants, nor did it document whether it used competitive bidding for consultants.

• The board violated the state’s open meeting law requirements on discussions involving executive compensation.

“The unfortunate cost to the community from this ongoing pattern of mismanagement has been a serious loss of jobs of caregivers that interferes with the delivery of care, and aggravates a serious problem in already depressed local economy,” said McEwen.

Decisions involving the health system’s consultants are especially notable, given that CNA contends the district has wasted millions of dollars on consultants that is money diverted from bedside patient care.

It has also put the health district in danger of being sacrificed for bidding to the private hospital industry, which, said McEwen, would “only aggravate the secrecy and lack of accountability to the public. Salinas needs to listen to the community, and work with their nurses and other employees to solve their serious problems and protect the quality of care.”