By Deb Meyer, RN, MNA Governmental Affairs Commissioner
On October 24, I was invited to join a round table with the United States Assistant Attorney General (AAG) Jonathan Kanter. As an MNA Governmental Affairs Commissioner, this was an opportunity to continue in my leadership role and explain how corporatization affects Minnesota communities. It was an awesome experience!
Small business owners, farmers and a variety of other people told their stories. He really listened to everyone. My focus was on the Sanford/Fairview merger and how Worthington Regional Hospital changed after it was bought by Sanford. Even though I had testified at the Minnesota Attorney General’s town hall in January, this was an additional opportunity to tell the public what we are seeing when hospitals put profits over patients and the impact to the care of the community when hospitals are not held accountable.
When our hospital was bought, we were told there would be NO changes and no one would lose their jobs. Slowly the changes began with the closure of our extremely busy 10-bed Behavioral HealthUnit as it did not make money. This was done without the knowledge of staff, the manager or the psychiatrist.
Next our ICU/CCU closed, and all patients were transferred to Sioux Falls, South Dakota. This was followed by the closure of an additional five departments. When the CEO of our hospital wrote a letter to the editor praising Sanford, four Registered Nurses wrote our own letter stating the above. We mentioned a nurse, who is presently employed by the hospital, stating in her testimonial to the MN Attorney General that she was deeply concerned about the staffing and morale and that employees come to work with a smile and quickly end up crying.
This is what Sanford did to our hospital.
When I was done sharing, AAG Kanter looked at me and said, “That is so powerful!” The other stories shared that night were just as powerful. The merger did not go through thanks to the many MNA nurses, legislators, and the community members who participated in the four town halls earlier this year and showed up to the Capitol to testify before legislators. This is why taking an active position in the legislative process is so very important. We can make changes!