Minnesota Report

Yesterday, at the University of Minnesota, on the street corner outside of the McNamara Alumni Center the Minnesota Nurses Association (MNA) rallied to protest the current state of contract negotiations with a number of Healthcare Nonprofit Institutions. Inside the facility, at a monthly event, the Carlson School of Management’s 1st Tuesday Speaker Series the topic was, Healthcare Leaders on the Future of the Industry. FYI the nurses were not invited.

At their rally, MNA President Mary Turner advanced their released an acknowledgement of a No Confidence Vote for “Nurses at seven Twin Cities, Twin Ports hospitals vote “No Confidence” in leadership as retention and care crisis worsens”.

They highlighted the compensation rates for the CEO’s at the following Hospitals.

Executives Hospitals 2019 CEO Compensation*
CEO James Hereford and the Board of Directors HealthEast, M Health Fairview Riverside and Southdale $3.5 million
91% raise from 2018
CEO Marc Gorelick Children’s Minneapolis and St. Paul Hospitals $1.4 million
CEO J. Kevin Croston North Memorial Hospital $1.3 million
CEOs Eric Lohn and
Nick Van Deelen
St. Luke’s Hospital Duluth Lohn: $700,000
Van Deelen: unknown

*Data from 2019 IRS 990 tax forms, the most recent year available for all hospital systems.

Their complaints were wide-ranging from staffing shortages, exploitation of the empathy nurses have for their patients, which results in expectations for more shifts. During the pandemic they were forced to wear the same N95 masks until the straps broke, and then were restapled, having panic buttons in room nonoperational and guilting of nurses who were unwilling to work extended shifts or ones who used personal time off.

If these claims, and others are true, then under the cover of COVID, nurses’ safety training and protocols for quality of care were sacrificed and not enforced to provide the appearance of concerned care but not true in actuality.

As the contract negotiations between the nurses and their hospitals continue, the two sides are at a structural impasse. The valuation of the nurse’s contribution to the quality of care, appears to be devalued and instead of them being seen as the best knowledge base of patient care, they are superseded by the corporate decisions at the top of the nonprofit corporations, which prioritize CEO compensation rather than employee compensation.

As we understand where negotiations lie, he nurses want a 39% wage increase, and the hospital are discussing 12-14%, now as we understand the nurses actually want 39% over three-years, which is 13%/annually. So this seems like a resolvable issue, but an annual flat rate seems a bit lower than required and a graduated stepped rate seems more applicable like 13% 1st year 14% the 2nd year and 15% the 3rd year.

Although honestly, this style of compensation lacks any rhyme or reason since the problem exists largely due to the lack of leverage, other than a strike and a suspension of service, nurses have few bargaining chips. In our mind, they deserve a seat at the table in the board room and should be calling for a profit-sharing model as a part of their compensation package. If rising tides float all boats, then demanding a 40% share of the board seats and a revenue model which compensates the women and men who do the work seems a reasonable direction to pursue. If the main objective is the quality of care for the patients, then those with the most knowledge and experience are voices which should be spoken loudly not just those seeking to compensation the shareholders.

Healthcare is a profitable business and under the cover of nonprofit status many, executives benefit quite handily. The American Health care system remains out-of-whack because it is not a right, but a privilege for those who can pay, when the fully derived benefit should be for all.

It’s the middlemen who carve out far too much from the system. Insurance companies, are merely the parasites on the process and receive undue compensation for interjecting rationing and denial of services to those unable to pay and until the system is shifted to a public utility of due and just compensation and care, where the lost cost provision results in the highest quality of care and the needs of the patient are not determined by their ability to pay, we face a continuing degradation. CEO compensations should be pegged as a multiplier of the lowest paid employee and until the least among us sets the standard for compensation of the highest above us, the system is broken.