Registered nurses at Providence Alaska Medical Center in Anchorage voted by a 3-to-2 margin to be represented by the Alaska Nurses Association. The nurses voted in August 1994, but the ballots were not counted until last month. The National Labor Relations Board had impounded the ballots pending the outcome of a case brought by the hospital against the nurses union, alleging that charge nurses were supervisors and not eligible to organize. The board finally delivered a ruling in that case Feb. 5. (Feb. 12, p. 14). The count was 305 in favor of the union and 193 against. Patricia Senner, executive director of the Alaska Nurses Association, said this is the first bargaining unit the state group has formed. Providence nurses approached the association in 1993 because they were concerned about use of unlicensed assistant personnel, she said. Providence has about 650 nurses on the payroll, down from 700 at the time of the vote.
Community Psychiatric Centers last week said it received a number of unsolicited "indications of interest" in its 15 hospitals in the United Kingdom. The hospitals generate about $18 million annually in earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization, said Ted James, healthcare analyst for Genesis Merchant Group, a San Francisco-based investment banking firm. That could put the price for them at about $150 million, he estimated. CPC officials declined further comment until discussions are terminated or an agreement is signed. Last December, the Las Vegas-based hospital chain decided to spin off its 29 U.S. psychiatric hospitals into a separate company. CPC would still own the profitable operations of 15 United Kingdom psychiatric hospitals and 13 U.S. intensive-care hospitals.
St. Margaret Memorial Hospital in Pittsburgh has agreed to merge with the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, the region's largest academic medical center. The proposed merger will solidify a clinical relationship that dates back many years and an affiliation agreement signed in May 1994. Stanley J. Kevish, who will remain president of St. Margaret, said the asset merger is not expected to result in any layoffs at the 267-bed community hospital, which is known for its family-practice residency program. Trustees and administrators of both institutions are talking to other hospital officials in the region about joining the 1,107-bed University of Pittsburgh Medical Center System. The goal is to secure a dominant role for UPMC as "the hub of a vertically integrated, geographically dispersed network," said Jeffrey Romoff, the medical center's president.
Cardinal John O'Connor, New York's Roman Catholic archbishop, helped to arrange the transfer of a brain-dead baby from Long Island Jewish Medical Center in New Hyde Park, N.Y., to St. Vincent's Hospital and Medical Center in Manhattan, averting a court battle over New York's regulations on brain death. O'Connor intervened after reading news reports about the parents' efforts to keep the baby on artificial respiration. "It was simply out of a sense of compassion for the parents," said Joseph Zwilling, director of communications for the archdiocese. Malcolm and Lois Scoon had sought to keep the baby on a ventilator even though physicians at Long Island Jewish had declared the baby brain-dead. At issue are state regulations for determining brain death. They require hospitals to have procedures "for the reasonable accommodation of any religious or moral objection."
Hospital and long-term-care groups are opposing an immigration reform plan being pushed by Senate Republicans that would impose a $10,000 fee on employers for each legal alien employed. The Senate Judiciary Committee is slated to debate the plan later this week. In a letter to GOP senators, the American Hospital Association said such a provision would penalize hospitals, particularly those in underserved areas, that employ foreign doctors and nurses. The measure is designed to keep employers from replacing American workers with low-wage foreign nationals.
The Association of American Medical Colleges will expand its Washington headquarters, acquiring 90,000 square feet of commercial office space through a $16.5 million bond issue. Proceeds from the sale of taxable bonds will allow the AAMC to purchase land and a building for $10.4 million. The remaining proceeds will be used to upgrade the building to code, meet requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act and pay issuance costs. The AAMC needs about 23,000 additional square feet for a recently created Center for Education and Medicine, which will be a separate subsidiary that will own and operate the new building. It plans to rent the remaining 77,000 square feet to other not-for-profit tenants, Turner said. The AAMC is a not-for-profit organization that represents the nation's 125 medical schools; some 400 major teaching hospitals; 86 academic and professional societies that represent 87,000 faculty members; and the nation's 67,000 medical students and 102,000 residents. The association has 270 employees. The AAMC already owns and occupies 85,000 square feet of office space in Washington.