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More El Camino nurses get layoff notices

Original post made on Sep 8, 2010

More nurses at El Camino Hospital have received notice that they "may lose employment," according to an official from the nurses' union.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Tuesday, September 7, 2010, 12:15 PM

Comments (26)

Posted by Mike, a resident of another community
on Sep 8, 2010 at 3:22 am

Why are nurses being cut? Are hospital visits down? Are we getting healthier? Are we sticking to our New Year's resolutions?

Posted by I Noticed, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Sep 8, 2010 at 7:25 am

According to Mr.Graham, it is all about the economy - "that no one knew would last this long." Really. According to Mr. Graham, it has nothing to do with the "bold move" to buy and reopen a previously shutdown hospital in Los Gatos in the middle of a recession. It has nothing to do with overspending on the new building in Mountain View to make it look like a grand hotel (with inoperative showers for a spell) while keeping services in the old building operating because there wasn't room to put all into the new building. There is of course, no money for the medical specialty building due to over spending of the new MV facility and to bring Los Gatos up to snuff. According to Mr. Graham, it has nothing to do with starting new projects in the middle of a recession but is only because people are not seeking medical care because they have no jobs and no insurance. According to Mr. Graham, as soon as this recession is over, the good weather and the beautiful facilities will bring people from far and wide to visit us.

He and his executives made a "bold move" by freezing their salaries and not awarding themselves another bonus though, which was nice since they make close to $3M combined (excluding extras). I am sure the new rush of multi-million dollar consultants brought in to inform them of this strategy are happy too, since they get a cut of the savings of the jobs cut, er money saved. Per Ken, "it's a matter of style and this is the style we have chosen."

Posted by reader, a resident of another community
on Sep 8, 2010 at 9:52 am

Mike: nurses (and many other people) are being cut because hospital visits are down. Hospital visits are down because lots of people lost their jobs and/or couldn't afford health insurance anymore, and quit doing elective procedures. That happened because in late 2008, the entire world economy collapsed after Wall Street actors, with help from everyone else, overinvested in faulty real estate schemes using everyone's money. Now you know.

The new "grand" hospital (you'd have liked it if the economy hadn't tanked) was entirely bought and paid for well before the recession hit. Ditto the Los Gatos hospital -- in other words, both projects were started before, not in the middle of, the recession. The Los Gatos hospital, meanwhile, is running in the black. As for the expensive consultants, they are good at cutting the fat and save El Camino something on the order of $10 for every $1 spent on them.

Blame Graham, sure -- but if you bought a house using a too-big mortgage, or overconsumed in any way, leading up to 2008, blame yourself too.

Posted by ECH Follower, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Sep 8, 2010 at 2:07 pm

"Reader," many would say the recession was well underway in 2009 when El Camino committed tens of millions to buying the Los Gatos hospital. More importantly, management's own projections of its future operating status showed margins dropping to the two percent range with the opening of the new building in Mountain View--and management said a margin that low couldn't sustain the organization even before the Los Gatos purchase.

The fact that with outside consultants management projects it will now save $60 million in 18 months indicates that essential adjustments to spending simply weren't made. When you talk about "cutting the fat," $60 million is a whole lot of fat. For an organization of this size, $60 million is savings of Biblical proportions.

Posted by Joanne, a resident of Cuesta Park
on Sep 8, 2010 at 2:09 pm

Amazing that the unions and hospital could not have found other ways to save positions etc. Temporary decreases in status, temporary benefits who's premiums would be paid by employees, temporary reassignments to other shift, departments etc.

The amazing thing is that the volunteers "pink ladies and gentlemen" run errands, supplies, specimins etc for FREE while these hospital chores should be paid positions. The hospital saves a LOT of money using volunteers to take up work that in other sectors , would be paid positions. The volunteers have, for many years, been invaluable but when jobs are lost to volunteerism, isn't it time to relook at the business mode. and legality of filling work need with unpaid "workers"?

Posted by reader, a resident of Waverly Park
on Sep 8, 2010 at 10:46 pm

I can't even deal with a discussion about ECH knowing that the biggest cheese there pulls in $800K-something. I dunno, if you start up a company and sell it, maybe you should make a million doing so. But if you are leading a community agency that has a foundation that sends out letters asking for money from average-income folks like me.....well, how much money is ever enough for the CEO?

Posted by give till it hurts, a resident of Rex Manor
on Sep 9, 2010 at 7:32 am

The hospital frequently solicits funds, volunteer time and "whatever it takes" from its employees too.

Posted by Mark, a resident of Cuesta Park
on Sep 9, 2010 at 12:37 pm

Are hospital administrators cutting themselves?

Posted by Mr. Graham Said, a resident of The Crossings
on Sep 9, 2010 at 2:31 pm

"We are a rich hospital." He said that about a dozen times at an employee forum. I am not rich. I don't know what that means. I know HE has a big, rich salary that is not cut but is frozen. Does that count?

Posted by ben gay, a resident of Cuesta Park
on Sep 9, 2010 at 6:27 pm

we are all scared of what might happen. hang in there guys, u are all valuble employees u will be ok

Posted by Edward B, a resident of another community
on Sep 10, 2010 at 1:04 pm

An example of the mismanagement, greed, and self dealing of the El Camino Hospital Board and Administration is the contract awarded to former Chairperson of the Board Dominick Curatola as Medical Director of the Heart and Vascular Institute. This "job" pays the princely sum of $240,000 per year for two days per week. That's a nice job if you can get it! According to the Revised Goals of 2009, his job would be deemed a success if he prevented fights between two heart surgeons, and if he made their surgical statistics for deaths and complications equal, so that patients wouldn't be able to choose the surgeon with the better results! His goals did not include anything to report results accurately or completely. While the Administration and Board are laying off nurses and blaming everyone and everything except themselves, there is no way they will be taking reductions for themselves. Why the residents of the District believe anything coming out of El Camino Hospital is a complete mystery. I automatically assume they are lying as they have repeatedly done in the past.

Posted by Waiting for the Next Round, a resident of Sylvan Park
on Sep 10, 2010 at 10:36 pm

I just read another article that stated the administrators will be taking the brunt of the cutbacks - which I have heard nothing to prove is true. I have not heard of one executive getting axed while support staff and nursing personnel are being cut. True, each executive froze their salary which is in most cases equal the salaries of 5-10 regular people. If their bonuses and the salaries of the consultants for this year, plus the consultants of the last few years were added together, plus the lavish affairs the leadership spends on advertising were combined and added up; that would be a pretty penny and probably equal and surpass the people that are being cut.

We shouldn't forget the expensive "wash your hands" campaign which was posted everywhere in the old hospital a month before the move to the new hospital but was not transferred to the new hospital, because it was not aesthetically pleasing in the fancy-schmancy decor.

Forget that nonsense about the ceo wanting to "hear your story" and "get to know you"; the locks went up on Administration the day before the first round of notices went out. You don't even see the executives walking around because they are hiding out in conference rooms still denying that they made poor choices and spent all of our reserves. The consultant/axefolks are walking around like they own the place; after they collect their bounty after cutting heads, they probably will.

Posted by Still hanging, a resident of another community
on Sep 12, 2010 at 6:03 pm

It is agonizing to continue to hang on the 60 day string that started on August 13 and will end on October 15. It is hard to go to work each day not knowing if you will be kept or let go. The administrators are very cold and don't seem to feel genuine sorrow for what has happened to us. We spend our days caring for our patients, but no one cares for us. When did these people lose their compassion. We are people too-we are mothers, fathers, daughters, sons, grandparents and even patients at times.

Posted by NEIGHBOR, a resident of Shoreline West
on Sep 13, 2010 at 5:41 am

I bet the Stanford Nurses got this article cause it looks grim for come November they should take anything Stanford offers...

Posted by a nurse, a resident of another community
on Sep 13, 2010 at 8:03 am

@ Neighbor

Stanford should not take anything they offer because if they did it wouldn't mean Stanford wouldn't lay off. The lay off is because there aren't enough patients for the number of nurses on staff at El Camino. The hospital expected a rise in patients after the move to the new hospital and there was a decrease. The state mandates how many patients per nurse so if you expected 300 patients per day and now you have are averaging only 230 you don't need as many nurses.

Posted by posted by an employee, a resident of Cuesta Park
on Sep 13, 2010 at 2:30 pm

There is alot of stress and sadness felt by all ECH employees. Many nurses and managers have worked at the Hospital for many years. Where do you go after working for 30 plus years and are still too young to retire? This is not ECH at its finest...

The administrators taking the blunt of the layoffs are middle managers, not those at the top.
anonymous employee

Posted by Not pulling wings off butterflies, a resident of Sylvan Park
on Sep 13, 2010 at 2:37 pm

Thirty days later and we are still hearing, "we don't know who is officially going" and "we're still evaluating positions" and "we are still deciding who is going and staying." It is awful to not know who is leaving or staying. The administrators don't know what they're doing and HR knows even less. Which is worse, being tossed out into the unknown or staying and working in the aftermath of the unknown only to be tossed out later?

If the hospital really cared and had coherent business plan, they would have already noticed everyone in the spring had the hitlist ready and dismissed people a month ago so life could move on for everyone affected.

I still think the whole purpose of this 60-day notice was to make it so uncomfortable and miserable for a select few people that they would just break from the pressure, quit and forfeit any payouts thereby saving the hospital more money so the executives could give themselves bonuses again.

I can't wait to read about who gets the letters in the next few rounds. I would wager some severance, if only I knew what it was, that no administrator or upper level executive would be on the list.

Posted by anonymous employee, a resident of Cuesta Park
on Sep 13, 2010 at 3:00 pm

The hospital administers had over the top salaries for years.. published for all to view in the local paper. The worst part of this whole thing is the lack of good information. They did not have a complete plan, did not have policies in place or information for the effected staff. Unbeleivable how poorly this has been handled.

Posted by Not surprised, a resident of another community
on Sep 14, 2010 at 12:22 am

As relative who lost a family member at El Camino due to a series of medical mishaps (which is being generous) it isn't a bit surprising to us that the hospital finds itself in such a mess. The employee complaints sound nearly identical to our experience in dealing with our loss, except we were dealing with a death, instead of the loss of a job. When did they lose their compassion? From our point of view, they never had it. What clearly was a medical mistake in our case, was swept under the carpet, denied, obscured to such an extent that truth would never prevail, and finally as a last resort litigated at a tremendous financial and emotional cost to our family. Since hospitals have no incentive to settle because of the statutory low awards in wrongful death cases, their defense is to outlast you so that you just give up and go away before you break the bank. We toiled on for as long as we could, expecting and wanting answers and accountability, so this would never happen again. It would have meant so much to have at least a small legacy in which to take comfort. But that never happened, and the opportunity for lessons learned was lost.

So it is not suprising to me, that ECH finds itself in this quagmire. It starts with the top, which is where we started, looking for answers. It ends when a patient's family has been harmed in the worst possible way, and they don't do right by the family who paid the ultimate price. It's time to humble yourself, and submit to change. You want cost containment? Then use medical transparancy and apology models to help grieving families put their loved ones to rest, and allow us to move on. We paid dearly and deserve to have the assurance that mistakes comes with a lesson learned so it isn't repeated. It is a good way to mitigate losses. You want better patient outcomes to lower your risk? Get rid of the risk manager strategy and try partnering and using patient advocates in your hospital to tell you what you need to do better from a patient point of view. I suggest you view the website: and contact them as to how to implement medical transparency into your hospital. This is an idea who's time has come. Transparency in medicine is being done all over the country, so why does California have to be last?

Without change, I cannot help to believe you will continue to suffer. Even though medical error happens one patient at a time, it has a cumulative effect and maybe it's because people have lost confidence in ECH as being a safe place to be. We know we aren't the only ones out there. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain by trying to be a better hospital to your patients, your employees, and our entire community. Please try to show compassion and kindness to not only patients who have been harmed but also the good healthcare professionals that are deserving of your kindness and some answers in these troubling times.

Posted by reader, a resident of Sylvan Park
on Sep 15, 2010 at 7:07 am

I wonder if the severance packages will be as generous & warm as the cold & callous treatment of their valued employees over the past few weeks?

Posted by Robert, a resident of another community
on Sep 15, 2010 at 9:29 am

"However, the contract did stipulate that the CEO(Domanico) and his wife will receive lifetime medical benefits not to exceed a cost of $1,000 a month."

That was from the Voice in 2005 when the last CEO's contract was finally released. It's incredible the El Camino Hospital District Board would agree to pay benefits for life to someone (Domanico's wife) who never worked for El Camino Hospital. This could cost the hospital district hundreds of thousands of dollars, depending on their lifespan.

This is just another example of the greed and arrogance of the El Camino Hospital District Board and administration.

Posted by neighbor, a resident of Shoreline West
on Sep 16, 2010 at 2:12 am

Posted by a nurse, a resident of another community, on Sep 13, 2010 at 8:03 am

@ Neighbor

Stanford should not take anything they offer because if they did it wouldn't mean Stanford wouldn't lay off. The lay off is because there aren't enough patients for the number of nurses on staff at El Camino. The hospital expected a rise in patients after the move to the new hospital and there was a decrease. The state mandates how many patients per nurse so if you expected 300 patients per day and now you have are averaging only 230 you don't need as many nurses.


r u blind...u do understand that colleges are impacted still for i said and everyone else did also the patient ratio is going down as will the nurses....better yet ill hire 4 nurses ass or med assistants...for ur job...its all economics...or more bang for the buck...

Posted by neighbor, a resident of Shoreline West
on Sep 16, 2010 at 2:15 am

Stanford has contract nurses ready to come in and fill in...sorry but its true..and they have to most traveling nurses around

Posted by reader of economics, a resident of Whisman Station
on Sep 16, 2010 at 7:19 am

The current economic slide is not anticipated to end until the beginning or middle of 2011. The lower census trend was starting long before the move into the new hospital and purchasing of Los Gatos so the curtailing of spending could have taken place. Instead the management and board took reckless gambles with money and spent it all on projects for the future rather than concentrating on completing the current local projects, for instance completing the new hospital and starting on the medical specialty building so the old facility could be torn down.

The way I see it, El Camino now has three hospitals; old, new and Los Gatos. Los Gatos still needs to be retrofitted or replaced. El Camino Mountain View is paying the overhead and utilities on three campuses plus the satellite and specialty facilities. The old building needs to be vacated but there is no where for those services to go because all money was spent on new services that patients cannot afford at this time.

Cutting the minimal headcounts of lower waged earners is not going to bail out the organization of this mess. If the management thinks that the numbers they are dealing with will help them break even, or earn a profit, they need to recrunch the numbers again and rethink strategies.

My family and I have gone to El Camino for many years and have always felt it was leading edge in medical advancements with a small town compassion feel. When I walked through there recently visiting a friend, I didn't feel any of that. The new building looked like an abandoned museum, the outpatient lab looked crowded and outdated and the staff I did see seemed preoccupied and sad.

I also used to throw a few bucks to the Foundation, but now that I see how money is spent, I think I'll hang onto my money for awhile until this all shakes out.

Posted by Hanging, a resident of another community
on Sep 20, 2010 at 10:04 am

Now, the RIF warning timeframe will be extended two weeks to the end of October. My question is, why didn't the hospital know what they were going to do with the positions and employees when they gave out the warnings on August 13th? They are paying thousands of dollars to the consultants, who have decided who to lay off, when they don't know anything about the people or their contributions to the particular departments. Why haven't these people helped the hospital figure out what to do now that the warnings have gone out?

The administrators are being paid tremendous money and they have no idea what they are doing. They are playing with peoples lives and the hospital is going down the tubes. Is the Hospital Board taking a look at the top tier? Something has to change and fast.

The hospital expects 110% and "Whatever It Takes" from the employees, and we have given. The employees expect compassion and respect, but have received neither.

Posted by former rat, a resident of Whisman Station
on Sep 22, 2010 at 1:09 pm

I am so glad I abandoned ship when I did!

I could tell the current CEO had no idea what in the heck he was doing after talking to him for only ten minutes. A lot of good people have been leaving and these layoffs are the beginning of getting rid of the rest. I've been hearing about a few who they are letting go and who they are keeping and it is appalling! There are some really good and talented people being cut and a lot of useless layers of management and deadwood still there - not to mention the wasted money on all of the outside consultants. Morale is so low that people who were not targeted will begin to look around too, because there is no leadership in place.

It is so horrible and it is only the beginning! When they find out it takes five people to do the job of one person let go without thinking things through and have to hire more people they will see a real cost savings - NOT!

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