An outsourcing deal made between Yale-New Haven Hospital and an outside services company is threatening the job security of its supervisory maintenance staff.
On Sept. 16, the hospital signed a five-year contract with ABM Healthcare Support Services, giving ABM the authority to oversee maintenance services for Yale-New Haven Hospital. Following the deal, 25 maintenance supervisors have been forced to reapply for their jobs — jobs they have held for the last 12 to 20 years. The number of available maintenance positions was cut to 20, and in addition, applications were opened to the public.
At least five of the current supervisors will lose their jobs due to the new deal.
“We are doing everything we can to minimize the impact, given the very draconian cuts we have had to manage,” YNHH Senior Vice President of Public Affairs Vincent Petrini told the New Haven Register.
Job changes will take effect on Nov. 1, but salaries and benefits for the new supervisory positions remain uncertain. Still, non-supervisory maintenance and environmental workers will not be impacted by the change, the Register reported.
According to a Sept. 24 memorandum released by the administration, the hospital’s needs have exceeded its current resources and management capacity. The facility requires “partnerships with companies like ABM to provide best practices, training and support in order to excel in customer satisfaction,” the memorandum said.
The outsourcing deal follows an announcement by Gov. Dannel P. Malloy to cut $24 million from the hospital. Petrini told the Register that declines in the stock market, and consequently in state revenue, triggered the emergency budget cuts.
“We don’t think [the cuts are] going to have an effect on health care in Connecticut,” said Gian-Carl Casa, undersecretary for legislative affairs at the state Office of Policy and Management. “We think hospitals have large and outmoded cost structures. Looking at other items in the budget such as social services, public safety and education, [hospitals] seem to be able to best absorb [the cuts].”
During the fiscal year 2014, Yale-New Haven Hospital had over $160 million excess revenue over expenses. According to radiology and economics professor Howard Forman, the hospital typically chooses to invest its revenue in renovation projects, similar to past years.
“We’ll definitely see [Yale-New Haven Hospital] diminish their ability to invest capital in new properties or remediate older properties,” he said. “It’s unfortunate that the hospitals that are doing the best in the state seem to be the ones that are being penalized the most.”
The budget cuts have been met with substantial pushback from hospitals, community members and state legislators, including Connecticut House of Representatives Speaker Brendan Sharkey.
Gabe Rosenberg, Sharkey’s spokesman, said that funding cuts are a “big problem,” especially for small hospitals. Skarkey said that he plans to work with leadership in the state Senate to mitigate the effects of stock market fluctuations without cutting funding to hospitals.
According to Forman, outsourcing deals — such as the one made with maintenance — are not uncommon, and may occur regardless of funding cuts.
“We see these trends in a lot of areas. Many years ago, hospital cafeterias were run by hospitals. Now they’re almost always outsourced to some type of services company,” he said. “If another organization can do it better because they either have greater skills in that area or better ability to retain talent, I think under those circumstances you would outsource it.”
Yale-New Haven Hospital currently uses outside services for its food, linen, shuttle system and valet parking services.