Hennepin Healthcare leaders resign under pressure by nurses to hold CEO accountable to workers and patients

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Sam Fettig
(c) 612-741-0662
sam.fettig@mnnurses.org

Lauren Bloomquist
(c) 651-376-9709
lauren.bloomquist@mnnurses.org

Nurses lack confidence in CEO Jennifer DeCubellis to correct decisions driving caregivers from the bedside  

(St. Paul) – January 10, 2024 – After the resignation of two members of the Hennepin Healthcare board of directors was made public yesterday, nurses with the Minnesota Nurses Association (MNA) employed by Hennepin Healthcare today reiterated their call for increased accountability and oversight of Hennepin County Medical Center (HCMC).

“Hennepin Healthcare leadership have made clear their disdain for oversight and accountability to their patients, employees, and the public. Rather than work to rebuild trust, board members resigned while our CEO continues to refuse transparency,” said Jeremy Olson-Ehlert, RN and MNA Co-Chair at HCMC. “We cannot continue like this. Nurses deserve better, our patients deserve better, and our community deserves better. Without accountability and change, quality of care, workplace safety and staff retention are at serious risk at Hennepin County Medical Center.”

After CEO Jennifer DeCubellis announced cuts to worker health plans late last year, which would increase costs and drive caregivers from the bedside, HCMC nurses organized to secure an $8 million appropriation from the Hennepin County Board to correct the issue. Despite this appropriation, DeCubellis declined to allocate the full amount to workers’ healthcare costs, and has not disclosed how she will spend roughly half of that allocation while taking a 15 percent raise in 2023, to now take nearly $1 million annually in compensation. This continued lack of accountability led MNA nurses at HCMC to vote “No Confidence” in CEO Jennifer DeCubellis ahead of the last meeting of the Hennepin Health board.

At that last board meeting in December, before the two members resigned, the board removed from the meeting more than 100 nurses, community members and other healthcare workers. Raising questions about compliance with Minnesota’s open meeting laws, the board then met behind closed doors in response to new oversight from the Hennepin County board to provide critical checks on worker layoffs and executive compensation, and to examine the impact of DeCubellis’ planned insurance cuts on workers’ care costs.

Nurses greatly appreciate the responsiveness of Board Chair Irene Fernando and the Hennepin County Board to this issue. However, the refusal of Decubellis to disclose where funding is going and the resignation of two Hennepin Healthcare board leaders to avoid oversight makes clear that additional accountability is needed. Without further intervention, there may still be a flight of healthcare workers from this critical public safety net hospital. In raising these issues to the Hennepin County board, nurses have been joined by fellow HCMC workers with the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Local 2474, AFSCME Local 977, and the Hennepin County Association of Paramedics and EMTs (HCAPE).

Before reaching out to Hennepin County Commissioners for assistance, nurses sent nearly 500 emails to DeCubellis to express their grave concerns about the impact her decisions could have on patients and workers but received no response. DeCubellis’ attempt to increase healthcare costs for caregivers comes as the Minnesota Department of Health recently disclosed that in 2022, HCMC was responsible for ten percent of all adverse events in the state, including bedsores, patient falls, and hospital deaths. Many of these occurrences are directly related to staffing shortages, which not only jeopardize patient safety but also affect the hospital’s ability to sustain itself financially.

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1 Comment

  1. Anytime a hospital administrators feet are held to the fire is a banner day indeed. They are one of the lowest forms of life on this planet and anyone who gets one to retire early is a true crusader for healthcare and for patients. Congrats.
    Sincerely
    The old Northwoods RN
    ps, In case it comes to this scenario Trump vs M Obama just remember that M Obama was a hospital administrator at one time in the past.

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