Miami-Dade County commissioners were met in front of Government Center on Tuesday morning by dozens of protesters wearing purple shirts emblazoned with “Save Jackson.”
Nurses, doctors and patients urged the commission to hear them out in reaction to last week’s announcement that over 1,100 jobs would be cut to keep Jackson Memorial Hospital financially afloat.
In the past past months alone, CEO Carlos Migoya said that the hospital lost $19 million, because of not enough paying patients and too many uninsured.
“I don’t care how they spin it. It is going to affect the quality of care that we can give,” said Nurse Practitioner Carol Robley, who has worked at Jackson for seven years.
“Jackson still provides the finest care in South Florida,” said emergency room Dr. David Woolsey.
Woolsey said these cuts may be a quick fix but will only cripple the county’s only public hospital for a lifetime.
“Instead of the shortsighted cuts that will destroy our system, we need a primary care system and specialty system to compete with the private hospitals,” said Woolsey.
Protesters on Tuesday signed a petition asking commissioners to grant them a public hearing. They were granted a 2 p.m. item on the agenda, and a promise of a future public hearing.
Commission chair Joe Martinez said he would announce it at a later date.
Migoya was at the meeting to discuss pending state cuts to Medicaid that could mean another $50 million hit to the public hospital.
The layoffs announced last week, many of which will be nurse positions, are part of a downsizing effort to meet a 7 percent decline in patient count.
“Patient care and safety is at its highest level in years,” said Migoya.
But critics question how management plans to make Jackson profitable while cutting staffing levels.
“We need to work with this community to increase the volume. We need to fix Jackson. We keep cutting, spiral downwards,” said Martha Baker, the nurses’ union president.
Woolsey blames the decline on unhealthy business practices.
“We make it harder and harder for our patients to get care. Fewer patients come in and are able to get care, and then we say, ‘Oh, we’re going to have to lay people off because we don’t need the staff to take care of fewer patients,'” Woolsey said.
The specific employees to be laid off will be notified next month, and many of them have already dealt with significant pay cuts and furlough days.
“As we grow volume, the flexibility that we’ll have with our part-time staff will allow us to flex up that staff when we need them, as volume indicates,” said Mark Knight, the vice president of Jackson Health System.