Friday, August 30, 2013

Questions and Concerns at Pacific Hospital - Part 3

         In my previous blog regarding this subject, I mentioned that I wish I had the facts (Questions and Concerns at Pacific Hospital - Part 2). Well we received some information on Thursday, August 29th about what was going to happen to the hospital and our jobs. It was finally confirmed that Pacific Hospital of Long Beach was sold to College Health Enterprises who owns College Hospital. They will be in partnership with Molina Healthcare who will be managing the medical units while College Health will be doing the same with the psych units. I believe Pacific Hospital had a similar arrangement with Molina a few years back. As far as our jobs are concerned, all employees will be terminated and the expected layoff date is October 29th. We will be asked to reapply with College Health Enterprises effective September 9th when they take over. As required by law, we were given a notice informing us of the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act, which we had to sign. A memo from the current owner of Pacific Hospital mentioned that employees rehired by College/Molina will continue benefits and retain any accrued PTO (vacation time). At least the part about the PTO is a relief. In case of a layoff, there is no mention of severance pay.
          With all that information, more questions and concerns arise but basically similar to what I wrote in Part 2. There is no guarantee of being rehired but at least it gives as a couple of months of leeway to find another job. Believe me, I've already started looking but what I've seen so far as being offered in area hospitals are per diem (no benefits) positions. Questions include - will the shifts go back to 8 hours or continue with 12 hours; if rehired and basically starting from scratch, will the pay scale be lower; since Memorial Counseling Associates will no longer be managing the psych unit, will there be a change in doctors; will it be better to gamble and resign so I can cash in my PTO then reapply with the new company, or wait to be laid off? Being laid off, though not good, is better than resigning because at least you can collect unemployment insurance, which is not much, but better than nothing. If rehired by the new company though, at least medical and dental insurance benefits will continue even if there is a decrease in pay. What about our 401k retirement plan? Will it roll over to College Hospital's investment company, or will it be up to us to keep it in the same place or transfer it to our own investment company? In an ideal world, if some of us get laid off, it would have been nice to get some severance pay in addition to the PTO being cashed out. Or if rehired, it would be good if they just pay off the Pacific Hospital PTO and start from zero with whatever vacation benefits that College Health has. I can dream, can't I?

Disclosure: I worked at College Hospital Cerritos twice - once in 1981(when their area code was still 213) which was my first ever psychiatric hospital job, a few months after moving to the United States, and the second time in the mid-90's. I have also experienced a couple of lay offs. The first with Los Altos Hospital and the second with Lakewood Regional Medical Center, both which gave employees several weeks worth of severance pay. And finally, Barry Weiss, who is the owner of College Health Enterprises is the brother of my colonoscopy doctor - Steven Weiss.

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