Friday, September 27, 2013

Questions and Concerns at Pacific Hospital - Part 5

Pacific Hospital
College Hospital

 and back to
 Pacific Hospital

The owner of Pacific Hospital has called off the sale of the facility to College Health Enterprises. What does this mean? Heck if I know. Already twice in the past month, a memo was sent to the doctors practicing in PHLB that the sale was delayed. In the meantime, checking the website, you would see that they have added the Pacific Hospital address as one of their 3 facilities with a link where you can download an application form, although the rest of it says the website is under construction. Strange that they did that while the sale was pending. To add to this confusion, College Hospital has started taking applications, conducting interviews, and even hiring people for what was supposed to be College Hospital of Long Beach or College Medical Center (this is the name they used on the website). This process was conducted by a College Hospital interviewer independent of Pacific Hospital's human resources department. There was even a Q & A meeting with the College Hospital and Molina Medical administrators last week.

This surprising turn of events happened on Thursday - September 26th. Prior to receiving the email from the owner of Pacific Hospital, I emailed human resources about my concern of not yet being interviewed despite being one of the first ones to file an application. It was later that evening that I learned that human resources was not involved in this process and that College Hospital had their own criteria. Not being called in for an interview yet by this time did not bode well for me and several others. Now that the sale has been called off, I wonder what will happen to the applications and especially those who have been rehired and already signed their acceptance to work for College Hospital. Were all those efforts for naught? They must have been elated, then deflated. In my case on the other hand, first I felt some embarrassment for not even making it to the interview process, then as time went on, I started feeling insulted. Why? Because some of the people who had their interviews and others who were rehired, I felt that even though they deserved to be in that position, I worked twice as hard as they have in the 10 years I have been with the company and haven't slacked off from the day I started. Unfortunately, hard work doesn't show well on application forms or résumés.  I may have to learn how to use better B.S. words to make my applications look more attractive.

Here is my speculation. The owner probably noticed in the past month that even though the behavioral health and medical units were no longer being managed by outside companies while the sale of the hospital was being worked on, they continued to thrive, and thus saved a lot of money being paid to those companies. If Pacific Hospital can become leaner like this, their earnings would be greater and that translates to more money for the current owner. But that's just my imagination running wild.

What will happen next is anybody's guess. The employees remain in limbo. I will have to treat this like a doctor advising a patient with an enlarged prostate: watchful waiting.

Update: 9/27/13 3:00 p.m. - We have just been notified that the WARN Notice ( that was issued to us more than a month ago is still in effect, which means we could still get laid off after October 29, 2013.

Scuttlebutt in the main campus is that the owner asked for more money from the buyers.

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Sunday, September 22, 2013

Joblessness, Errand Walks, Zamboanga City, MNLF

If you think I don't visit the Philippines often enough (about once every 15 years) when I was employed, what more if I don't have a job? I won't be able to afford the plane fare and I can't swim that far. Perhaps if I hide in a box and ship myself via LBC...

I've been doing a few of what I call, errand walks lately. That means I combine my workout with something I had to do. Kinda like my meanderings in Zamboanga last year. I had errand walks to Walmart to replenish my fiber gummies, and on another day to Pacific Hospital to turn in my College Hospital application forms. Then another time, I did a jog/walk to pick up my blood pressure meds at Walmart Pharmacy. The last one I did was a few days ago when I did an hour walk before picking up a bag of Gevalia coffee which was on sale at Von's grocery store. Speaking of walking workouts - in the past I've walked with a backpack with a 15 pound weight in it. I tried putting in another 15 pound weight and took out the trash while testing the heavier backpack. I barely made it to the trash bin and back to my place. Hard to imagine how soldiers can carry a 50 pound pack, body armor, weapons, and ammo, while dodging bullets.

Well, I had to fill out an application form for College Hospital in hopes of being rehired by them, so I had to dig out old applications from more than 10 years back to look at my job history. In the process, I found some old printouts of my résumé as well as the old 3.5 inch floppy disk I had the original saved in which had all the proper formatting. Even though I have a 1987 vintage Toshiba laptop that could still read the floppy disk, there was no way to transfer it to new media. What I did was scan the paper copy and saved it as a pdf file, then found a free online pdf to MS Word converter. It worked! Now I don't have to retype the whole thing because I have an editable Word file.

In 1974, although I was no longer there, the MNLF disrupted our lives in Jolo and my family along with countless other families and friends became refugees in Zamboanga. Zamboanga, which embraced these refugees unconditionally, had become their adopted city since then. Now the same MNLF group, without conscience, is trying to do the same to Zamboanga City for no other reason than regain their so called old glory, because they have become insignificant for decades. Once again, they have managed to disrupt the lives of people. How this is supposed to endear them to the populace or gain sympathy for their cause, I have no idea. Unless their plan is to gain overwhelming power and oppress and persecute the people like the former government of Myanmar (Burma). Did Nur Misuari or his cohorts really believe they could take the whole of Zamboanga with just 200 or so followers, or perhaps he thought that if he started something the other MNLF factions would rally behind him? Zamboanga City is way larger and more spread out than the town of Jolo. What he is doing in Zamboanga is almost like the ill fated Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba, except those Cubans were trying to take over a country. If he had a large number of sympathizers in 1974, he doesn't appear to have now because he has become insignificant. A lot of Tausugs despise him to this day for what he did to Jolo. Probably something akin to my grandparents and parents generation's hate for the Japanese even long after World War II. Just bear in mind though, that I have been away from that part of the world for a long time so what I write here are just my impressions, and who knows, I could be grossly mistaken, but I base these impressions on what I have read in newspapers and social media.
And to think that Zamboanga was one of my choices of cities to retire in. This incident totally cancelled out that option. Heck, it would even be difficult to fly there in the morning just to have satti for breakfast and lunch then leave in the afternoon for fear that a similar incident could erupt anytime and one can get stranded there for days.

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Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Questions and Concerns at Pacific Hospital - Part 4


               The change in ownership of Pacific Hospital of Long Beach from Healthsmart Pacific to College Health Enterprises was delayed for a week but the employees were able to start reapplying for their jobs two weeks before that. It appears that the new official name is now College Hospital of Long Beach. With the change in ownership, the psychiatric unit which was being managed by the Memorial Counseling Associates has had a sudden drop in the number of inpatients because the doctors from that group have lost their admitting privileges. See, MCA has their own intake department and doctors group which funnel patients coming from Pacific Hospital's emergency department and other area hospitals towards the 3 psych units Pacific (in this case, College) Hospital has. College Health Enterprises have their own intake department called Access Services and their own admitting doctors. With the loss of MCA, the psych units have lost a lot of patients due to discharges and needs to reestablish a new patient base before the census goes up again. In hospital parlance, census is the number of patients who are being treated on the unit.
                 The consequence of having a low census is that the staff have to take turns getting cancelled from work due to staffing ratios. The hospital only needs a certain number of staff to cover a certain number of patients. Hospital workers know about this and I may be overexplaining myself for the sake of making it clear for non-healthcare workers. On the first official day of College Hospital running the show, it just so happened that it was my turn to get cancelled, which hasn't happened in approximately 2 years. Thus, I got a call from the nursing supervisor at about 5:30 p.m. on Monday notifying me so, because the census in the unit I work in, which has a capacity of 36, had dropped to 18. Ergo, not only are we in danger or being laid off, but while waiting for word if we are going to be rehired or not, we are already losing income because of the low census. Our first hope is that census rebuilding won't take too long by reassigning the psych patients who show up in the emergency department to the College Hospital doctors. The second hope of course is to be rehired.
                There should not be a similar problem with medical patients though, since there won't be a change in the admitting privileges of the doctors. The only change they are having is that Molina Healthcare will be managing the medical units. But I could be wrong since I'm not privy to that kind of information. Meanwhile last week, a representative from the labor union which College Hospital Cerritos employees belong to, contacted me via email after reading my blog, asking questions which I didn't know the answers to.

This wasn't meant to be a series of posts but it had become so as things have evolved. Here are the links to my previous posts regarding this matter: 
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Sunday, September 8, 2013

My First Jobs

From this...

to this...

          All this talk about getting laid off and reapplying for a job got me thinking back on the kinds of paid jobs I've had in the past. If I were to go way back to elementary school, my first ever experience at earning some money was when I sold ice candy (ice pops) to players at the Jolo Tennis Club which was next door to our house. My mother made them in chocolate, coconut, and strawberry flavors. I don't know exactly how much I earned. A few years later I became a junior player at the same tennis club with my cousins Jimmy and Razen. The second job I remember was helping Uncle Ed with his summer job at the Bureau of Public Highways where I think I earned 2 pesos a week which actually came out of his salary. That money I spent playin Wahoy which was supposed to be a game of chance, but it was common knowledge around town that the game was fixed. Then it was off to college where I became an unpaid student assistant in tennis at the University of the Philippines. While I didn't get paid for that, with the exposure, I was able to gain a few clients for paid private lessons. At the time (1973-1979), my going rate was 20 pesos per hour. This led to teaching a summer class at United Laboratories with about 40 students in one tennis court. It's probably safe to say that they didn't learn very much, but I tried my best. That was my biggest paycheck right after college. I earned 1,000 pesos then, and at that time, that was a large amount for me. Yes folks, I was an erstwhile tennis pro back then :).
          After that, it was time to become an adult and pay my own rent without help from Dad and Mom. Fresh out of Physical Education school, I applied for and was hired as a physical fitness instructor along with my classmate Jay, at a small private gym in Makati called The Sweat Shop. No doubt the owner was a fan of I Love Lucy. It was in this gym that I had my first girlfriend Emy (she liked to be called Pepper back then, as in Sgt. Pepper Anderson) who happened to be a fellow instructor. Unfortunately that business only lasted over a year. But with luck, Jay and I were absorbed by a corporate gym in the same vicinity and I worked there until 1980. Then I left for the U.S., which happens to be another chapter.

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Wednesday, September 4, 2013

E-machines Settlement = New Ultrabook

Amid all the concerns about getting laid off from my job, I received a pleasant surprise a couple of weeks ago which came in the form of a notice saying that a class action suit in which my name was included as one of the plaintiffs, was finally settled. See I bought an Emachines desktop computer more than a decade ago and as usual, I registered my purchase. Some time late last year I received a letter informing me that there was a class action lawsuit against that computer company and I responded to the letter. The settlement entitled me to either a cash amount of $62.50 or a credit of $349 towards a purchase of laptop, netbook, tablet, and/or monitor. If the price of the replacement is more than the list price, then all I have to do is pay the difference.

When I went on the website to see what products were being offered, I saw that they were Acer machines and most if not all were refurbished. Apparently Emachines was taken over by Acer. No matter, because most of the computers I've bought have been refurbished and I've never had any problems with them. There was a wide range of prices - from a $99 monitor all the way to $900 for the high end laptops. If you choose anything below $349, then that's what you get as your settlement. They will not pay you the difference. The closest device being offered to $349 was a tablet for $330. I didn't need another tablet and I didn't want an out of style netbook either. The next best thing to my price range was a $510 ultrabook (manufacturer's suggested retail price is $799) with a 14 inch touchscreen and a battery life rated up to 8 hours, Core I5 processor, running Windows 8. With taxes, I would have to spend more than $200 extra on top of the $349 settlement. It's not like I can spare $200 nowadays with the impending job layoff. But I decided to order the Acer Ultrabook anyway while I'm still making a paycheck, and besides, there was a time limit in which the settlement had to be used.
Last week, the computer arrived via UPS. It was like Christmas in the middle of a heatwave! I excitedly opened the box which revealed the refurbished ultrabook and a power cord. And that was it. No manuals, disks, or even a quick setup guide. Good thing I was already familiar with Windows 8. I typed in the usual setup information then logged on to my Microsoft account, and when the computer finished booting, I was surprised to see that the wallpaper I had on the Windows 8 Start screen, as well as the desktop was exactly the same as my home laptop! Apparently this synching process was a function of Windows 8 with your Microsoft account.
Other than fully charging the battery that day, that was all I could tolerate in the oppressive heat. Exploring the computer would have to come another day.

One of the first things I noticed was how quickly the ultrabook booted up. After timing it a few times, it appeared that boot up time from power on to the Windows 8 Log On screen was between 11 and 15 seconds. My goodness, that's faster than the Nexus 7 and Asus Transformer that I have! The fast boot up is probably because the operating system is stored in a separate 20 gigabyte solid state drive (SSD). Since it didn't come with an Office Suite (not even a trial one), I installed my old MS Office 2007, and also made a recovery disk. Next, I ran an internet based benchmark test to check how long the battery would last with continuous activity. The advertised time was 8 hours. With the benchmark test, the battery lasted about 5 and a half hours. I thought that was pretty good for a laptop. I just hope the battery doesn't degrade too much or too quickly as time goes on like my old netbook. Having used tablets for more than a year now, it was an easy transition to use the touchscreen on the ultrabook.

Lately, I've been interested in Chromebooks, but after getting this ultrabook for close to the same price as a Chromebook, I definitely got a much better deal on a fully loaded computer which battery life even exceeds that of a Chromebook. In the meantime, I'm also included in another class action lawsuit against Dell. I'm wondering what they're offering?

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