Nashville Hospital Authority

ChapterLogo_HospitalAuthorityNashville General Hospital (NGH) is Nashville’s original community- based hospital.  Joint Commission accredited, NGH readily accommodates a wide range of needs from emergency services and acute care to ancillary and ambulatory services.

NGH continues to maintain its strong commitment to the healthcare needs of Nashville and Davidson County underserved, while also providing care to all segments of the community.

Nashville Hospital Authority Memorandum of Understanding (pdf)

Nashville Public Employees Respond to Pew Report on Benefits

Close to 200 Metro employees and SEIU members packed the Howard School Building to hear Pew's proposal for benefit changes for city employees.

Close to 200 Metro employees and SEIU members packed the Howard School Building to hear Pew’s proposal for benefit changes for city employees.

Workers on Public Employee Pension and Health Systems: “It Ain’t Broke… Don’t Fix It”

Hundreds of Nashville firefighters, nurses, law enforcement officers, librarians, water technicians, school employees, and other public service workers and retirees spoke out against a proposal by Pew Charitable Trusts to cut public employee and retiree benefits at a meeting of the Study and Formulating Committee.

Pew issued an interim report that explored a proposal for Metro Nashville to close its existing defined-benefit pension plan and shift future employees into a state pension plan that is a combination – or “hybrid” – of a traditional pension and a 401(k)-type defined-contribution plan. A hybrid proposal would shift more of the costs onto employees, who make on average about $33,000/ year according to a recent compensation study. “A lot of us have to take second jobs to make ends meet and many of us are single moms,” said Vanessa Sanders, a labor and delivery nurse at General Hospital. “After taxes, transportation, health insurance, and all the other necessities, we just cannot afford to have more money come out of our paychecks for a retirement contribution.”

Many questioned the need for any changes after the city conducted a similar study of employee benefits in 2012 in which several key adjustments to the plan were already made. Recently, Metro’s actuaries revealed that the city’s defined benefit plan is 83% funded, putting it in the top tier of public pension funds. CNBC reported that in 2013, the Nashville plan’s investment returns were the fifth highest of all city and state plans in the U.S. In other cities and states that have shifted to a “hybrid” type like the one proposed by Pew, costs to taxpayers increased while benefits for beneficiaries decreased. “If changing the system is actually going to cost the city more money and deliver less of a benefit to workers, why the heck would we do it,” asked Rick Beasley, a 911 dispatcher. “It sounds to me like Pew is creating a “lose-lose” situation that leaves taxpayers and employees paying more and getting less.”

“It ain’t broke, and we don’t need Pew fixing it,” said Jack Byrd, a corrections officer. Pew’s work has been funded by a foundation organized by billionaire John Arnold, a former Enron executive and hedge fund manager. Some have criticized Arnold’s efforts, saying that hedge fund managers like Arnold collect generous sums in fees for managing the funds while workers are left with reduced pension benefits.

The Service Employees International Union, Local 205, which represents thousands of Metro employees across dozens of city departments, agencies, and in Metro schools, made it clear that it opposes any changes to employee benefits. “Pew and their allies are proposing a solution to a problem that doesn’t exist,” said Doug Collier, president of Local 205. “If there are any cuts that need to happen in Nashville, it should be to the tax breaks and corporate welfare being handed out to millionaires.”

Pew officials ultimately admitted in their interim report to the Study & Formulating Committee that Metro’s pension is in “solid financial shape,” but did find significant concerns with the unfunded liability the city has as a result of its retiree medical program. The Committee announced that Pew’s work in ongoing and another report is expected in the coming months to examine some remaining issues. The Committee’s next meeting date has not been announced yet.

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SEIU Takes Action to Protect Jobs & Quality Care at Nashville Nursing Homes

Union members working at Bordeaux Long Term Care are sticking together as they face a transition to a private sector employer.

Union members working at Bordeaux Long Term Care are sticking together as they face a transition to a private sector employer.

After weeks of meetings between Local 205, Metro officials, and executives at three different private companies, agreements were made to protect the job security and employee rights of hundreds of healthcare workers at the Bordeaux Long Term Care facility and the Knowles Home for Assisted Living in Nashville.

The agreements came out of a new deal that Metro Government brokered with Signature Healthcare, Ed Street Company, and Autumn Assisted Living Partners to transition long term care services away from government to the private sector, a trend that has been happening nationwide for decades. Of all the major metropolitan areas in Tennessee, only Nashville still operates nursing homes. Under the deal, which was approved by the Metro Council in March with SEIU’s support, Signature will manage and operate the Bordeaux Long Term Care facility while Autumn will operate Knowles.

SEIU was able to negotiate a “memoranda of agreement” with Signature Healthcare to ensure that workers and patients at Bordeaux were protected in the transition and that they continued to have a voice through their union.

“Having this kind of an agreement with a private sector company is very rare and a big win for our members,” said Brad Rayson, Local 205’s representative who helped bargain the various agreements. “Even though the facilities changed from government hands to private operators, we were able to keep salaries and benefits consistent with what workers had as Metro employees, we protected folks pensions who were near retirement, and we protected jobs.” An estimated 90% of current Bordeaux employees will be offered jobs with Signature while the remaining staff will be offered either another job within Metro or a severance package to help while they find new employment. Signature will assume management of the BLTC facility on May 1, 2014.

SEIU also negotiated that Signature recognize the union as the employees’ bargaining representatives as well as the attendant rights and responsibilities that come with union recognition. “We get to keep our union and our seat at the table,” said Berry Woods, a phlebotomist at Bordeaux. “Everything is negotiable, but that is not. We are glad to remain a union shop so we can continue to fight for the best care for our patients.”

Meanwhile, at Knowles Home, all current employees will be offered their jobs and they will also be entitled to the severance package. Autumn will officially assume management of Knowles on July 1, 2014.

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Major Changes Coming to Public Healthcare Facilities in Nashville

As reported in The Tennessean, Mayor Karl Dean announced plans regarding future operations of Bordeaux nursing home and the Knowles assisted living facility in Nashville.

Local 205 is in discussions with Metro officials and the owners of the private companies to ensure that jobs, workers rights, and patient care are not put at risk. More information on this as it develops.

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Member Spotlight: Vanessa Robertson

Vanessa Robertson: Labor & Delivery Technician @ Nashville General Hospital.

Vanessa Robertson: Labor & Delivery Technician @ Nashville General Hospital.

When Vanessa Robertson reports to work every day at Metro General Hospital in Nashville, she isn’t just showing up so she can collect a paycheck. “A job is somewhere you show up every day so that you can have money to pay your bills,” Vanessa says. “This is more than just a job to me. I see it as my ministry. After all, Jesus took care of the sick and the poor and I can do a lot worse than to follow His example.”

Vanessa is a labor and delivery technician at Nashville’s safety net hospital, Metro General at Meharry. She assists doctors and nurses with OB/GYN patients and helps to bring new life into the world every day. It’s this sense of compassion and hope that led Vanessa to SEIU Local 205. She joined the union back in 1994 when she came to General and even though she’s a working mom, she still finds the time to be active in the Union. Vanessa has served as a shop steward since 2000 and has been on the union’s Bargaining Committee since 2003. “I want to be part of an organization that respects the voices of employees and helps them to get the dignity, respect, and justice they deserve at work,” Vanessa says.

As budgets in Washington and here in Tennessee continue to shrink, Vanessa often worries about what will happen to General, which relies heavily on subsidies—but not just because it will affect her own life. “We are so important to the community and we help so many people who can’t afford health insurance and treatment—I pray that Nashville General can weather this storm. In the meantime, I will continue to help my patients and my co-workers to the best of my God-given abilities by participating in my Union.”

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Union Members & Clients Save Knowles Home from Shutdown!

The Knowles Home is an adult day services and assisted living facility that cares for elderly residents in Nashville who cannot afford to live anywhere else. It used to be under the authority of Metro Social Services and was transferred to the Nashville Hospital Authority in 2005. As the Hospital Authority struggles to fund General Hospital, Knowles continues to be at risk for closing as well since it often operates at a loss because of its indigent clients.

That’s why at the Oct. 25 meeting of the Hospital Authority Board, the main agenda item was a proposal to close down Knowles Home, which would have put the future of its clients and its employees in jeopardy.

But when SEIU members, clients, and their families organized and spoke out, the Hospital Board voted unanimously to keep Knowles Home open. This was possible because of the activism and support from SEIU members, Knowles residents and their families, as well as other community advocates. “When they made the announcement that Knowles Home was off the chopping block, the crowd broke into cheers and applause,” says Trista Boseman, the SEIU organizer for the Hospital Authority. “It’s times like this we should be glad we have a Union so that we were able to organize and protect our jobs,”, says Joseph Johnson, a Knowles Home custodian. “Through the Union, we were able to make sure that residents wouldn’t have been out on the streets if this would have gone through,” says Mike Peck, a social worker at Knowles.

 

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