Saturday, July 23, 2016

Report from the AFT Minneapolis Convention

I spent this week in Minneapolis at the AFT Convention the AFT Connecticut delegation.  Seven productive, enjoyable, and tiring days.
This was my first trip to Minneapolis and St Paul, both great cities. Many of the buildings have over the street walkways that connect them and that was appreciated with the very warm weather. We could walk from our hotel to the convention hall three blocks away without going outside.  I imagine they come in real handy in the winter.

There were lots of great places to eat or have a drink and relax with friends in the area and we also took a short ride to St Paul to check out a couple of places that were recommended to us. Some of the Connecticut delegation hopped the train and went out to the Mall of America, which they said was amazing. I wish I could have had even more time to spend with our members.  It was also great to see friends from all across the country.

We were well represented on the convention floor, with almost 100 delegates. Roger Woods won the Healthcare Everyday Hero award for his work at Danbury Hospital and across the country on Ebola and other infectious disease controls. Roger is known as the “nurse whisperer, because he uses hypnosis technics in his work to calm patients. He used it in his acceptance speech, speaking softly, and having everyone turn to their neighbor, touch them lightly on the shoulder, and tell them they were successful. It was pretty cool. 
Our delegates rose to speak on resolutions, including Lisa D’Abrosca and Harry Rodriguez, who are presidents of the L+M RN’s and Healthcare Workers, respectfully. Both rose to speak on the resolution for better controls on hospital mergers. Harry is an AFT CT VP and Lisa an AFT CT Divisional VP.
 
Hillary Clinton was inspirational in her speech as were Randi Weingarten, Mary Cathryn Ricker and Loretta Johnson, and many others. President Weingarten is a good chairperson, finding a way to efficiently attend to the business of the convention, while allowing those less familiar with Roberts Rules to participate while not feeling embarrassed.  She listened with grace and patience to the few who wished to speak against her.

She and her entire Progressive Caucus slate were elected with 98% of the vote, which brings me to my most exciting news coming out of Minneapolis, the election of AFT CT President Jan Hochadel as an AFT Vice President! 
She joins the AFT Executive Council, the governing body of the international. 
It is recognition by the delegates of her incredible leadership. 
Many talk the talk, some walk the walk, Jan not only walks the walk; she brings others along with her. 
AFT CT is lucky to have her and now so too is AFT
.
I also had an opportunity to practice my nursing skills, assisting in a couple of medical emergencies, including a trip to the local hospital.  Luckily, both patients recovered nicely.

Always lots of work to do after a convention and while my fellow officers will be back hard at work in Connecticut, I'm off to Philadelphia for the Democratic Convention where I will have the honor to vote for the next President of the United States on behalf of the democrats of Eastern Connecticut’s Second Congressional District.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

If this is Saturday, this must be JFK

11:05 flight to Minneapolis, arriving at 1:15. 

Or not. 

Seems the plane has mechanical problems, so we are back in the terminal, awaiting repairs, and hoping against hope. 

Why oh God, WHY?

Then I realized. 
He probably has other things to think of than my travel plans. 
In fact, it reminds me of the story of the man in his house with rising flood waters. As he escaped to the roof of the house to escape the water, a boat came along. "Hop in and come to safety" they said. 
"No, God will take care of me he replied."
A helecopter came. "Climb up the rope to safety."  "No, God will takecare of me."
The water continued to rise and he drowned. 
In heaven, he asked God, "Why didn't you save me?"
God said, "I sent you a boat and a helecopter. What more did you want?"

Sometimes, we don't see God in the situation we are in. 

So,
With this delay,
I have had used the time to have a great conversation with some AFT teachers from New York. 

See you in Minneapolis. 


Tuesday, July 12, 2016

We have the truth

One after one they stepped up to the microphone in their suits.
I'm a employee of Yale or L+M, I work for a non-profit that Yale gives money to, Yale is great, L+M is great, we trust them, they will take care of us, they will look out for us, they wouldn't lie to us.
It was sickening to see what dirty money can buy.

Then they started walking up to the mic in Scrubs and Jeans.
I'm a nurse, I'm a tech, I work in housekeeping, I love my community hospital and have dedicated my life to it, but I don't trust them, I've seen how they locked us out, I've seen the salaries they get at the top, I've seen them cut services.
I work at Yale, don't believe them.
I live in the community, I'm worried what increased prices will do to my insurance costs, what decreased services will mean if we have to travel to New Haven.
I live in Windham, I know what happened to my community hospital when it was taken over, don't let it happen here.

The motivation of the first groups was clear, a paycheck, a donation.

The motivation of the second group was also clear, a love of patients, of community.

The room was packed, maybe 200 people.
A coalition of community, faith, and labor sitting to the left.
Yale to the right.
OCHA has the responsibility to decide.
Is this in the best intereest of the citizens?

This acquisition would give Yale 60% of the Connecticut healthcare market and a monopoly along the lower third of the state. 
Would they use this advantage for good, or evil?
Past experience of other healthcare system say evil. 
Past practices of Yale and L+M agree. 

So we took some punches from Yale last night, but we hit back strong. Round two is July 26. 
They have the money. We have the truth and a love for what we do and the community we serve and belong to. 
Bring it on Yale, we're ready. 

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Save our Community Hospitals

Tomorrow evening (Monday 7/11), a coalition of community, faith, and labor groups will join together in New London to testify against the proposed acquisition of L+M Community Hospital by Yale.
Why has this group devoted so much time and energy into this cause?
We all feel an ethical responsibility to the people of the community and all the residents of the state of Connecticut, to preserve access to high quality, affordable health care.

The proposed acquisition would create a single entity that would control hospital and doctor practices along the bottom third of the state from the New York border into Rhode Island. It would control 60% of Connecticut healthcare.
 Our research and our experience have shown us that this would lead to an elimination of services and an increase in prices.
Unlike other monopolies, this monopoly would face very little community oversight or regulation.
The Connecticut General Assemble and the people of Connecticut recognize these concerns and have outlined them in a law that took effect on January 1 of this year. In fact, the governor has since placed a moratorium on further consolidation until a task force can study it.
Yale, however, circumvented this law by filing it's paper work at the eleventh hour, in December, just before the new law took effect. 

Elimination of services would force patients and families to travel to New Haven for care they now receive in New London and increases in prices would cause an increase in insurance premiums and place further stress on already vulnerable state, local and personnel budgets.

There may be times when these acquisitions are necessary, such as when a larger, more profitable hospital acquires a smaller, financially struggling hospital and can transfer capitol to the struggling hospital.
That is not the case here.
L+M is not a struggling hospital.  It posts a healthy, even robust profit. In fact, it is so financially healthy, it acquired Westerly Hospital a few years ago.  
The purpose of this acquisition is not to help a smaller struggling hospital, it is to achieve a greater market share to be able to negotiate higher compensation from insurance companies who themselves are trying to merge in an effort to better position themselves against such monopolistic hospital systems.

The loser in this arms race for market share strength is the community, through loss of local control, oversight and increased prices.
It is estimated that the increased cost to the State of Connecticut alone, through the effect on state employee healthcare plan, could be $1 million/year. That does not factor in the direct cost to local government plans or resident's plans.

One of the responsibilities of the labor movement is to stand up for all workers, unionized and non, and their families and communities.  We share this responsibility with community and faith groups.
That is why we will be at the state Certificate of Need Hearing at the Holiday Inn at 35 Governor Winthrop Boulevard in New London, starting at 3:00 pm until probably 10 pm.  
You can show your concern and support by coming for any part of it and sitting in the audience, or even better, speaking during public comments. You need not stay all night. 
If you cannot come, please call, email or write your elected leaders and express your concern, and during the upcoming political campaigns, question them and their campaign workers on how they feel about the loss of local control of healthcare to large monopolistic healthcare systems who reward their executives to the tune of millions of dollars a year at the expense of access to high quality, affordable, local healthcare.


Friday, July 8, 2016

WHY and WHEN?

Binghamton, Fort Hood, Blacksburg, Aurora, Newtown, San Bernadino, Orlando, Eric Gardner, Trayvon Martin, Fredie Gray, Micheal Brown, St Paul, Baton Rouge, Dallas, Black lives, White lives, Hispanic lives, Gay lives, Straight lives, Police lives, Civilian lives, Military lives, 6 year old lives, 30 year old lives, so many daily on our streets, in our homes, drugs, domestic abuse, suicide, wrong place wrong time.

So many lives.

WHY?

and WHEN do we do something?