The last holdout nurse anesthetists in a lingering outsourcing dispute were set to leave St. John Health System late Thursday as two Oakland County, Michigan, hospitals transfer those services to a newly formed contractor company with no deal in place for most of the current staff.
Two of the original #Michigan68 certified registered nurse anesthetists have very recently accepted deals to be part of the new employment model at St. John Providence Hospital and Medical Center in Southfield and St. John Providence Park Hospital in Novi.
The #Michigan68 group had held out in contentious negotiations over terms of possible future employment with contractor PSJ Anesthesia PC. One other employee was not immediately available to vote up or down on the most recent deal offered to staff CRNAs earlier this week.
But 65 CRNAs rejected the last offer from the health provider earlier this week and have been clearing out their lockers and turning in employment badges this week. A skeleton crew of remaining employees is in place until the transition at 11 p.m. Thursday, the CRNAs' attorney said. No other negotiations are taking place.
"St. John Providence is continuing with its plan to transition anesthesia services provided by Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNAs) at Providence-Providence Park Hospital to PSJ Anesthesia on Jan. 1. PSJ Anesthesia was formed by anesthesiologists who have provided care to patients at Providence for more than 40 years as part of Northland Anesthesia, a nationally respected anesthesia provider," St. John Providence said in its latest statement this week from corporate public relations director Daniela Scholl.
The hospital has said PSJ Anesthesia's "staffing model is complete and ready to go" after the transition but has not said how many of the PSJ employees so far will be new CRNA hires, temporary hires or current members of the hospital's staff of anesthesiologists and medical doctors.
David Shea, managing partner of Shea Aiello PC and attorney for the #Michigan68, told Crain's in an email the group is "happy to stay on or come back to work if they ever need the group, even if there were another vendor brought in. Otherwise, the CRNAs are out looking for work wherever they can get it. Providence has not offered severance or unemployment."
Shea has been representing the #Michigan68, a social media campaign term for 68 out of 74 staff CRNAs at the two St. John Providence hospitals who have rejected the service agreement since November. In all, he said, about 14 CRNAs of the original hospital staff have accepted PSJ deals — most of whom were never part of the group or left it some time ago.
Providence has said CRNAs are “still being offered the opportunity to request transition of employment from St. John Providence to PSJ, with comparable pay and benefits,” but has not specified whether that's the whole group or a subset of it, subject to availability or other PSJ hires.
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 starting Friday.