In July, L+M Healthcare and the Yale New Haven Health System announced a joint decision to place three neighboring health centers — Lawrence + Memorial Hospital, Westerly Hospital and the Visiting Nurse Association of Southeastern Connecticut — under the YNHHS administration.
As part of the agreement, YNHHS will invest $300 million into expanding service offerings in the new affiliate hospitals and health centers. But some union leaders have questioned how the affiliation may affect employees and unions operating under both systems.
The majority of the workforce at L+M Healthcare’s clinics and hospitals is part of one of three unions. After the affiliation was finalized, the three union presidents, Harry Rodriguez, Stephanie Lancaster Johnson and Lisa D’Abrosca wrote in an email to AFT Connecticut, a statewide labor federation of more than 90 unions, to express their concerns about how the new affiliation might impact unions.
“It is critical that we make our voices heard to ensure ‘patients before profits’ at our community hospital and throughout our health network,” they wrote.
Matt O’Connor, communications director for AFT Connecticut, explained that the heads of the unions met with L+M Healthcare leadership to discuss their concerns. O’Connor added that AFT Connecticut “intends to see that caregivers have a voice in the process.” As of now, there have not been complications with the unions, and both sides of the discussion are open to conversation, O’Connor added.
In July, the Hartford Courant reported that it is unlikely that there will be any changes in the union contracts; no major alterations in internal structure are expected.
O’Connor said that the unions are learning from similar health systems’ past affiliation processes. He added that the union leadership does not want to see program cuts or caregiver layoffs, which would be “devastating to New London”.
YNHHS plans to spend the $300 million to implement a new electronic medical record system in L+M Healthcare hospitals, amongst other initiatives that have not yet been specified, according to the Courant.
Vincent Petrini, senior vice president of public affairs at Yale New Haven Hospital, said the affiliation happened largely because the two health systems have a long-standing clinical relationship, and this affiliation serves as a natural extension of the collaboration. He added that the goal of both YNHHS and L+M remains to preserve access to patient care in the most efficient and cost-effective way possible. Petrini said that YNHHS agreed to recognize existing union employees and is committed to continue work with existing employees. But Petrini added that there were no current conflicts with union members.