HARRISBURG, Pa.Pennsylvania hospitals, ambulatory-surgery centers and long-term-care providers cannot require nurses and other clinical-care workers to work overtime under a bill that cleared the states Legislature and was signed into law by Gov. Edward Rendell. Pennsylvanias House of Representatives voted 186-13 to approve the bill a day after it won unanimous consent in the Senate. The overtime ban includes clinical workers who are not considered supervisors in union contracts or who earn an hourly wage. It also extends to temporary workers. The bill excludes doctors, physician assistants and dentists, as well as other jobs not directly related to healthcare, such as clerical and maintenance employees. Language in the bill that allows employers to require overtime under certain circumstances addresses hospital concerns, said Roger Baumgarten, spokesman for the Hospital & Healthsystem Association of Pennsylvania, in an e-mail. Employers may mandate overtime in the case of: unforeseeable declared emergencies; a highly unusual or extraordinary event that affects healthcare delivery or demand, such as an act of terrorism, a natural disaster or a widespread disease outbreak; or unexpected absences that will significantly affect patient safety. The legislation specifies that chronic short-staffing vacancies do not qualify under the bill. These changes will ensure the safety of the patient is paramount and provide flexibility in the healthcare setting to manage their workforce when there are unexpected staff absences, he said.
ALBANY, N.Y.New York announced its latest grants, worth $280 million, to cut excess hospital and nursing home capacity and improve primary care under a statewide plan laid out by the New Yorks Commission on Health Care Facilities in the 21st Century. The grants, unveiled Sept. 30, bring to $1.26 billion the amount New York has spent on restructuring efforts and health information technology. The most recent wave of spending includes $100 million to clinics and public health departments for primary and community care. Another $150 million was awarded to 26 hospitals, nursing homes or other providers that are handling patients displaced by planned downsizing or closures. Finally, 10 nursing homes received $30 million to downsize and invest in adult day care and assisted living.
HARTFORD, Conn.Officials with 542-bed St. Francis Hospital and Medical Center are working to determine which 50 jobs to cut as part of an effort to stabilize operating expenses, according to a written statement from hospital spokeswoman Tina Varona. The Oct. 6 statement said that the not-for-profit, two-hospital St. Francis Care system has added about 400 jobs in the past two years, and officials hope to make job cuts that will not affect patient care. The annual report for St. Francis Hospital said that the facility posted $22.4 million in revenue in fiscal 2007, even though operating expenses rose by $48.7 million in the same period.
MONTPELIER, Vt.Vermont Information Technology Leaders, the not-for-profit organization charged with running the states health information exchange network, seated a new, smaller board of directors, according to a news release. The new board was reduced from 21 to 11 directors. The directors were chosen during a five-month process to revamp VITLs governance structure and move the 3-year-old organization from startup operations to long-term stability, according to the news release. The smaller board will help us concentrate on developing strategies for network build-out, and the collaborative policy development process will continue as well, VITL President Gregory Farnum said in the news release. VITLs new directors include Chairman Don George, vice president of managed health systems for Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Vermont; Vice Chairwoman Lisa Ventriss, president of the Vermont Business Roundtable; Treasurer Paul Harrington, executive vice president of the Vermont Medical Society; and Secretary Bea Grause, president and chief executive officer of the Vermont Association of Hospitals and Health Systems. A VITL spokeswoman declined to provide board members ages.