An Open Letter to John Sullivan, President of Washington Hospital Center
Mr. John Sullivan, President Washington Hospital Center
Dear Mr. Sullivan:
As a long-time patient of Washington Hospital Center, I am writing to thank you for returning to the bargaining table with the National Nurses United union and to urge you to rescind previously planned measures that would substantially cut nurses salaries and benefits. While such harsh measures may cut immediate costs, they will damage the WHC’s ability to care for patients and maintain its well deserved reputation as one of the best hospitals in the nation.
Here is my connection to WHC: In 2003 I was diagnosed with serious blockages of four major arteries. As a result I had quadruple bypass surgery at Washington Hospital Center. I have also had continued surveillance for coronary disease and arrhythmia at the hospital. I want you to know how much I appreciate the care and treatment I have received and its role in my recovery. Please know that the nurses at Washington Hospital Center were a major part of the superior treatment and care that I received during my stays. Their hard work, compassion and good cheer means a great deal to patients, especially who are awaiting or are in recovery from major surgery. I will never forget the night before my open heart surgery and how reassuring it was to have several nurses do all they could to provide care and comfort. I was also very weak after surgery and had to get a transfusion — thank God the nurses were so attentive, timely and professional.
WHC’s Nurses: During several stays the last few months, several nurses expressed their concerns regarding under-staffing and cuts to nurses’ salaries and benefits that your Administration announced would take effect at the start of the New Year. One of the most important issues is your plan to eliminate nurses’ “differentials.” Differentials provide extra pay for those nurses working night shifts or have positions that are inherently more stressful (e.g. emergency room detail). The effect of this change will mean severe reductions in pay for those whose work is the most difficult and the largest salary cuts will be imposed on the most experienced nurses who have served WHC for many years. I hope you share my view that this approach is harsh, unfair and detrimental to patients well being.
Moreover, these cuts cannot be enacted without seriously jeopardizing Washington Hospital Center’s ability to fulfill its Guiding Principle, “To treat each patient as we would a member of our own family by providing the best medical treatment with caring and compassion, responsive service, and intelligent use of resources. Through this achievement, we will be recognized as a national model for excellence in patient-centered care.” It is hard for me to see how a cost-cutting plan contributes to WHC’s Guiding Principle.
As a new president you have a real opportunity to set a new course – to bargain in good faith with Nurses United and to take “off the table” any cuts to nurses’ pay and benefits. Preserving and supporting Washington Hospital Center’s nursing staff is one of the best ways for your administration to make WHC a national model for excellence in patient-centered care. Thank you for your consideration,
Henry S. Cole, Ph.D. , Publisher Ekos-Squared
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