Union rep releases Q&A sheet that KDMC chief officer sent employees

Published 11:19 am Friday, August 16, 2013

Nearly 150 people showed to work at King’s Daughters Health System Thursday to what was business as usual just one day before.

Those 148 support, administrative and supervisory employees were met with an email from Fred Jackson, president and CEO, explaining the sudden changes.

A copy of the email, signed by Jackson, was sent to the media by Anthony Caldwell, communications coordinator for the SEIU District 1199 WV/KY/OH.

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The email was followed by a list of questions and answers explaining why the layoff announcement wasn’t made in advance of Thursday and the financial stability of the company.

“The most effective spokespersons for our health system have, and will always be, our own people. In response to Team Member questions from last week’s small group presentations, we are providing below a list of questions and answers you should find informative. We also hope you will find these helpful when addressing questions from our patients and community supporters.


Q: Why didn’t you announce the decision to reduce jobs in advance?

A: We heard your request for increased transparency and gave serious consideration to announcing the reduction in advance. We decided not to make the announcement, because we did not want to distract the Team’s attention away from patient care any more than it already was. Additionally, we did not want to cause unnecessary distress for the 96% of our Team Members who were not directly affected by the reduction. It was the opinion of the senior leadership team that making such an announcement in advance would cause more harm for the majority of the Team than it would produce good for the 148 people leaving the organization.


Q: As we focus on reducing expenses, how do we decide what changes are necessary?

A: We make decisions that support our Mission and Vision and allow us to best position the Health System to meet the needs of the communities we serve. The efforts we are undertaking to improve efficiency and cost effectiveness are intended to strengthen and ensure the future of the Health System. At the same time, we are entering a period that demands far greater economic efficiency in daily operations. For example, when considering new programs in the future, the need to prioritize and replace, rather than add, will be evaluated.


Q: Why is everything happening so quickly?

A: We anticipated change in the healthcare industry and began taking action three years ago. These efforts focused on Process Innovation, revenue generation and cost savings. The onset of managed Medicaid in Kentucky, federal budget spending cuts beginning in the spring of 2013, reductions in revenue, and both premium and deductible increases for people who have commercial health insurance, have contributed to reductions in patient volumes and revenues. We have accelerated our own efforts to address these financial pressures.


Q: Is the Health System in trouble financially?

A: No. The Health System is financially sound, but will remain so only if we address the financial pressures in a timely, thoughtful and strategic manner. We must work to ensure our continued financial stability. The actions we are taking now will ensure that KDMC continues to operate in a fiscally sound manner, allowing us to deliver on our Mission. While downsizing our workforce in a manner that allows us to operate more cost effectively, the Health System has and will continue to grow services and service areas that make sense. We will work toward having additional Family Care Centers obtain the designation of Patient Centered Medical Home, a designation the Ironton Family Care Center holds. Several other centers are in the application process.


Q: Who is making decisions about these changes?

A: Consultants have assisted us to identify opportunities for improved cost effectiveness. However, KDMC leaders, including vice presidents, department leaders and managers, and front line Process Innovation leaders are making the decisions about workflow redesign and process improvement.


Q: What can we tell our friends and family in the community about the DOJ review?

A: The Medical Center has cooperated fully in the Department of Justice review of our cardiac program for many months by producing requested documents and making people available for interviews. We are not permitted to make further public comments until the matter is resolved. We have not received an indication of a potential resolution date.


Q: How can we help turn the Health System around?

A: Speak with your leader regarding opportunities you see to improve care and services we provide our customers. Contribute ideas for PIL projects that will take waste out of our processes. Be aware of supply costs and do not waste supplies or equipment. Be a role model to your peers in your observance of SPIRIT standards and productivity. Be flexible – arrange to cross-train to a similar position in another department.


Q: Are we merging with another hospital?

A: No. There are no plans to merge with another hospital or health system. We are pursuing clinical affiliations that make sense for our customers, but our local control, through a Board of Directors made up of local business people, is a valuable piece of the fabric of our organization. There are no plans for changing that.


Q: We have heard the café is closing, is that true?

A: No. There are no plans to close the café. We have reduced the operating hours to maximize the efficiency of our food service team, and adjust to the demand.


Q: What if we think a decision is flawed? How do we communicate our ideas and concerns?

A: We encourage you to contact us with ideas for improvement or with specific concerns about proposed changes that may have unintended consequences, such as an adverse impact related to services or functions. Please notify your department leader or any vice president of any ideas or concerns.”