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HomeNewsArchivesLuis Hospital Employees Upset by Details of Leaked Contingency Plan

Luis Hospital Employees Upset by Details of Leaked Contingency Plan

Although it never came to pass, a contingency plan to cut its budget by 25 percent came back to haunt the board of the Juan F. Luis hospital Wednesday night.
During negotiations over a bill to allow the V.I. government to sell bonds to cover budget deficits this year and next, the hospital – like every government agency – had to put together a contingency plan. If the bill didn’t pass, officials wanted to know, how the hospital would cut its budget by one-quarter for the remainder of the fiscal year, which runs through September.
The plan was sent to the territory’s Office of Management and Budget March 18.
The bill passed and was signed this week by the governor, so the contingency didn’t come to pass. But the plan lives on. Details of the plan leaked out, including the names of those slated to lose their jobs if the bill hadn’t passed.
Dr. Jorge A. Galiber, the hospital’s director of Medical Quality Management, received a copy several days ago when it was slipped under his office door at the hospital. And he was shocked to see his name at the top of the list.
At Wednesday night’s monthly board meeting he had some pointed questions.
“What type of criteria was used to determine who would be terminated?” he asked hospital board chair Valdemar Hill. “Somebody was asleep at the wheel when a document like this can reach the director, Office of Management and Budget, without understanding the possible fallout of morale among JFLH staff.”
Galiber said he is considering talking to an attorney about the publication of the plan.
The contingency plan called for eliminating 54 positions, some of which were already vacant, for a total personnel savings of $2.6 million, including salary and fringe benefits. The cover letter—signed by the hospital’s interim chief executive officer, Darice Plaskett—details which positions will be cut, including 20 from nursing services, 10 from professional ancillary services, eight from financial services, six from both support services and administration, and two from both medical services and risk management. And it names every individual and gives their current salary – the savings that would be realized if the plan had had to be put into effect.
The report goes on to note that these cuts would not be easy for the hospital to take.
“The reduction of these positions will have a significant impact on the overall operation of the organization,” the report said. “We have made every effort to avoid the reduction of inpatient services … Unfortunately, reduction or elimination of outpatient services will have a deleterious effect on the overall quality of life of our community.”
Hill apologized profusely to Galiber during the meeting and said the release of the detailed report was an accident.
During discussions over the bill, a senator had asked Hill for a copy of the report. Hill had his office fax a copy. But instead of faxing the cover letter, which gives the general shape and dollar figures, the entire seven-page document was sent. The senator then made copies for his colleagues, which is standard procedure in the Legislature, and the plan made its way into public.
While recognizing that the plan is now moot with passage of the borrowing bill, Galiber was still upset. “It’s the principle of the thing…. This is personal,” he said.

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