Facing a Friday deadline, two St. John Health System hospitals in Michigan appear no closer to an outsourcing deal that would use most of their current staff of certified registered nurse anesthetists. In fact, the system's new contract provider stands ready to replace them.
St. John Providence hospitals said Tuesday it has a third-party employment service contract in place with the newly formed PSJ Anesthesia PC and expects no interruption in service when that deal takes effect Jan. 1.
"Their (the CRNAs) employment with St. John Providence discontinues Dec. 31, 2015. The PSJ Anesthesia staffing model is complete and ready to go. All anesthetizing locations are 100 percent operational, and will continue to provide safe and efficient anesthesia services (starting Friday), without any interruption in care," St. John Providence corporate public relations director Daniela Scholl said in an updated statement Tuesday.
David Shea, managing partner of Shea Aiello PC and attorney for the holdout CRNA employees, said this week that a new offer went out last week including time-and-a-half pay for more than 80 hours in every two-week pay period, plus an opportunity to read terms and conditions in advance of signing the deal — a sticking point in past contract discussions.
However, that offer only went out to about 37 of his clients, Shea said; most of the rest last Wednesday received an invitation to confer about future employment options with PSJ owner and anesthesiologist Dominick Lago, of Northland Anesthesia Associates PC in Southfield, who is also affiliated with St. John.
Shea has been representing the #Michigan68, a social media campaign term for 68 of the 74 staff CRNAs at St. John Providence Hospital and Medical Center in Southfield and St. John Providence Park Hospital in Novi who have rejected the service agreement since November.
“The latest proposal has been rejected outright, partly because it wasn't a set of real or material changes since the last offer, and partly because it's contrary to what has been previously represented by Providence via (recent media) statements,” Shea said.
Providence said current CRNAs are “still being offered the opportunity to request transition of employment from St. John Providence to PSJ, with comparable pay and benefits,” but does not specify whether that's the whole group or a subset of it, subject to availability and PSJ's own hires. Shea said only one of the original Michigan 68 has signed a PSJ contract, while three other CRNAs have asked to join their holdout ranks in recent weeks.
Scholl in the Tuesday statement reiterated that Providence is following a common industry practice by contracting professional services to another company, but that PSJ is now finished staffing for the service transition — in previous statements the staffing model was still in progress. Lago did not immediately respond to messages seeking comment Tuesday.
Sources on both sides of the discussion have told Crain's in recent days that PSJ has made progress via hires outside of the staff CRNA group, including employees of other hospitals and some contingent or temporary staff, to help with the transition later this week.
A Gofundme account to support the Michigan 68 with legal expenses and other costs has so far raised more than $57,000 in donations since Nov. 28.
“As a group we have grown, and learned to listen to each individual voice in our group, and through our professionalism harmonized them into one strong and resounding voice for ourselves and our profession ... ” a statement on the group's Gofundme page reads.
“Our voice, 68 strong, will not accept anything other than a contract capable of benefiting both employer and employee —one that treats both sides with the respect they deserve.”