The California Nurses Association took a step toward becoming a national competitor to the American Nurses Association, winning its first labor election outside California. Cook County, Ill., nurses voted 955-487 to leave the ANA-affiliated Illinois Nurses Association and join a CNA offshoot, the National Nurses Organizing Committee. "This is a victory with national significance," said CNA President Deborah Burger. The NNOC will represent 1,800 Cook County nurses. The union plans to try organizing nurses in Arizona next, Burger said. The Illinois Nurses Association's national AFL-CIO affiliate, the United American Nurses, responded in a prepared statement: "The decision by Cook County nurses to `go it alone' is a step backward," said Cheryl Johnson, UAN president, in the statement. Johnson accused the California nurses of "raiding already organized nurses."
Walter Reed on closing list
Walter Reed Army Medical Center, Washington, is among 180 military installations the Pentagon has proposed shutting down in an effort to save $49 billion over 20 years. National Naval Medical Center, a 240-bed facility in Bethesda, Md., would get some staff and services from 261-bed Walter Reed and have "Walter Reed" added to the front of its name. The 96-year-old Walter Reed has long cared for presidents and members of Congress, as well as injured military men and women. It treats about 16,000 patients per year. Public hearings and a special commission on military closures will follow, with the commission due to report to President Bush by September. Bush must reject or accept the commission's recommendations in entirety within the month. Congress then will have 45 days to do the same.
Fired doc sues hospital
An emergency room physician charged that he was fired from Western Pennsylvania Hospital, Pittsburgh, for raising concerns about quality of care. The physician, David Lemonick, filed a whistle-blower lawsuit in Common Pleas Court in Pittsburgh against the hospital and West Penn Allegheny Health System. Lemonick alleged that hospital officials ignored his numerous complaints about delays in submitting blood samples, dangerously slow treatment of cardiac patients, understaffing and poor sanitation. He said in the lawsuit that he was reprimanded for "disruptive behavior" and terminated without cause in November 2004 after about four years at the hospital. West Penn Allegheny spokesman Tom Chakurda said the issue was not a matter of quality but the physician's "inability to work effectively and professionally with his colleagues and support staff." Lemonick's attorney could not be reached by deadline.
Bonuses aid quality: survey
Paying providers bonuses for higher quality and more efficient care is a great way to control healthcare prices, but publishing provider cost and quality data is not, according to a survey of healthcare opinion leaders for the Commonwealth Fund. Fifty-seven percent of 289 respondents said pay-for-performance was "extremely" or "very" effective in controlling healthcare prices, the highest rating of any cost-containment method in the survey. Just 35% considered disclosing comparative provider performance data to the public to be similarly effective for containing costs. Fifty-six percent of respondents saw disease management for high-cost conditions and enhanced primary-care case management as highly effective tools for reducing overutilization of services. Forty-six percent viewed healthcare information technology as a similarly effective utilization-management tool. Harris Interactive conducted the survey by e-mail in April.