St. John Providence Health System, Warren, Mich., should regain just less than half of the certified registered nurse anesthetists it lost amid an outsourcing contract dispute at the outset of the year, after management reached a deal with most of the former employees who hadn't found other jobs.
The CRNAs who rejected offers to be outsourced to newly formed contractor PSJ Anesthesia PC in late December met with PSJ management and attorneys earlier this month and began reviewing a new contract offer Jan. 19. They finalized a deal this past weekend, said David Shea, managing partner of Shea Aiello PC in Southfield, Mich., who represented the CRNAs.
In all, four of the 66 employees who lost their jobs starting Dec. 31 at St. John Providence Hospital and Medical Center in Southfield, Mich., or St. John Providence Park Hospital in Novi, Mich., are returning to work full time as PSJ contract employees, while 24 more will be contingent employees paid an hourly wage without benefits, with an option to sign on full time later.
Another 29 CRNAs have decided not to return, 24 of whom have found new job offers elsewhere since the New Year, Shea said. Nine more were either undecided or could not yet be reached as of Tuesday.
The returning employees could start filling shifts at Providence hospitals for PSJ later this week.
”I think this is a really healthy decision. This was a fair and market-value contract that was negotiated unfortunately after the fact, but the group as a whole thought it was fair," Shea said. "The only decision after to make that was really whether, after all that has happened, the whole group really want to return and be PSJ employees. But the group members have agreed to disagree on that.”
The #Michigan68, a social media campaign term for 68 out of 74 staff CRNAs at the two St. John Providence hospitals who rejected a previous service contract with PSJ in November, has been through several rounds of negotiations since. But the hospital and its owner, St. Louis-based Ascension Health, always contended that any CRNAs who hadn't signed the PSJ contracts were unemployed as of Dec. 31.
Since then, the hospitals have continued to host surgeries, largely via a combination of anesthesiologist doctors performing CRNA duties and a small contingent of the CRNAs who did sign PSJ agreements.
Providence has said in the past that CRNAs were “still being offered the opportunity to request transition of employment from St. John Providence to PSJ, with comparable pay and benefits,” but was generally not as forthcoming about contract details.
“Providence-Providence Park no longer employs CRNAs at its two facilities,” Providence Director of Corporate Communications Daniela Scholl said in a statement, deferring further comment to PSJ.
PSJ President Dominick Lago and attorney Carey Kalmowitz of The Health Law Partners PC, who has represented PSJ in contract discussions, did not immediately return phone calls seeking comment Tuesday.
Among the newest concessions CRNAs won at the meeting earlier this month with PSJ management were: each side would forgo potential litigation against the other, the CRNAs would participate in profit-sharing in lieu of having an equity stake in PSJ, and a performance enhancement committee of CRNAs and PSJ owners would convene to set policies and procedures, Shea said.
Michigan accounts for more than 2,600 certified registered nurse anesthetists out of about 48,000 nationwide, who administer anesthesia during surgeries.
A Gofundme account online dedicated to covering legal and other expenses for the Michigan 68 holdouts during contract negotiations has raised more than $63,000 in donations since late November.
“It is after much personal sacrifice some of the (Michigan 68) will return to the workplace, patients, nurses, aides, anesthesiologists, surgeons, and support staff they have known and loved for years — doing so with the ability to hold their heads high,” the group states in an update on the Gofundme page.
“We have proven our conviction to stand up for what is right. We have shown the extent of our moral fortitude by remaining committed to the CRNA profession and our campaign despite the personal cost. And, most importantly, have shown the selfless ability to forgive — exemplifying the compassion and professionalism inherent throughout the entire nurse and advanced nurse practice field.”