CNA delays Kaiser strike. The California Nurses Association has delayed until July 17 its planned strike against Kaiser Permanente in Northern California. The nurses decided to postpone their strike, originally scheduled for July 7, after Kaiser agreed to resume bargaining on July 12. The nurses say they expect Kaiser to be forthcoming at the negotiating table, or 7,500 of them will walk out at 47 Kaiser hospitals and clinics. They have been working without a contract since Jan. 31.
SEIU loses Ohio hospital vote. Employees at Franciscan Medical Center in Dayton, Ohio, voted to remain nonunion late last month. Of 1,519 ballots, 788, or 51.9%, were against joining Local 1199 of the Service Employees International Union. The union challenged 179 other ballots cast, but excluding those was not enough to change the outcome. About 1,700 of the hospital's 2,600 employees were eligible to vote. Passage of the measure would have made 622-bed Franciscan the only nonfederal Dayton hospital to unionize. Franciscan is part of Franciscan Sisters of the Poor Health System.
VA hospital to reduce nursing staff. Dayton (Ohio) Veterans Affairs Medical Center announced last week it will cut its nursing staff by up to 70 employees during a three-month period to try to head off an $8.5 million deficit. The hospital will decrease its number of registered nurses to 279 from 349, mostly through attrition and dismissal of temporary employees, said Lawrence Tucker, the hospital's assistant director. At the same time, the hospital will increase its staff of licensed practical nurses and nursing assistants by 35. Those nurses will start work this month. "We need to be as efficient and effective as we possibly can," Tucker said. A task force of nursing staff members was formed in May to study how to phase in the layoffs.
Mariner adds three facilities in Md. Mariner Health Group, a New London, Conn.-based provider of nonacute-care services in 29 states, last week signed a definitive agreement to add three skilled-nursing facilities to its Maryland network, centered in the Baltimore-Washington corridor. Terms of the transactions weren't disclosed. With the proposed acquisitions in the Baltimore suburbs of Glen Burnie, Bel Air and Forest Hill, Mariner would own 13 facilities in Maryland. The acquisitions are expected to be completed in the third quarter.
HealthVision to market Imnet products. Atlanta-based Imnet Systems, a developer of information management systems that capture and retrieve healthcare data and medical images, and HealthVision, a Santa Rosa, Calif.-based provider of networkwide clinical information systems, signed an agreement under which HealthVision will market Imnet's products. The Imnet "electronic information warehouse" will bring diagnostic and document images into the CareVision medical-record software developed by HealthVision to get patient data to the point of care, said Don Zeppenfeld, HealthVision's senior vice president of marketing (See related story, p. 90).
Detroit hospital changes name. Detroit Medical Center's Huron Valley Hospital in Commerce Township, Mich., changed its name to Huron Valley-Sinai Hospital last month, reflecting the February merger of its parent and Sinai Hospital in Detroit. The 139-bed Huron Valley-Sinai has publicized services such as kosher meals and rabbinical services in order to attract Jewish patients, but it is emphasizing sensitivity to all religions, DMC spokeswoman Susan Happel said. Many physician practice at both Sinai and Huron Valley-Sinai, she said.
Study discounts longer post-birth stays. Longer hospital stays after childbirth do not significantly reduce hospital readmission rates for mothers or newborns, according to a study by the consulting firm Milliman & Robertson. The firm said the findings, released last week, show longer hospital stays do not represent an improvement in healthcare quality. Milliman & Robertson prepares practice guidelines for managed-care companies and has drafted a guideline suggesting 24-hour hospital stays after birth. An obstetricians group said the findings are not surprising because most of the post-birth conditions resulting in hospital readmissions take more than 24 hours to emerge.