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#505916 - 07/17/15 11:00 AM KHMH Staff Demands Raise, Cancels Clinics
Marty Offline
Cancelled! That's what happened to all Outpatient Elective Services and Surgeries scheduled at the KHMH from tomorrow going forward. That's the word coming from angry hospital staff tonight after they were told they would not get the raise that they are asking government for.

As we told you on Tuesday, 600 KHMH workers are asking government to give them a raise of pay - just like they did to public officers and teachers. The hospital staffers work for the KHMH Authority which is a statutory board - so they are not public officers and don't qualify for the raise of pay that teachers and public officers got.

On Tuesday, representatives of the Board of Governors and senior hospital management went to Cabinet to ask for the increase. But the answer has come back - and it's not positive. It seems government says that, at best, the hospital staff has to form a union, just like the teachers and public officers did and negotiate from the position.

Twenty minutes ago, a release came from the hospital staff which says that they will form a KHMH Authority workers' union to negotiate on their behalf.

Still, the statement demands that the salary increases awarded to public officers be paid to the employees of the KHMH in full.

And to show their muscle, - as we said at the top - all Outpatient Elective Services and Surgeries referred to the KHMH will be cancelled starting tomorrow. During this time, only referral services and specialties that are not available at the district hospitals will be accepted.

Channel 7


KHMH employees demand salary increase

After 7:00 tonight, our newspaper received a press release and short notice warning that effective tomorrow, Friday, July 17, the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital (KHMH) will cancel all outpatient elective services and surgeries referred to the hospital, and only referral services and specialties that are not available at the district hospitals will be accepted—a protest by workers to solidify their demand for a cumulative 14% salary adjustment.

Amandala was unable to reach Dr. Peter Allen, Chief Executive Officer in the Ministry of Health, on the announcement—triggered by the discontent felt by KHMH staff over a decision by Central Government, two years in a row, to reject their demand for a salary increase comparable to that which has been granted to teachers and public officers, represented under the umbrella of the National Trade Union Congress of Belize, who have been granted a 6% increase in 2014 and 8% in 2015.

The KHMH is a statutory body, and Central Government had taken the position that no employees of any statutory body would receive the automatic salary increase approved for teachers and public officers.

Dr. Adrian Coye, KHMH CEO, was briefly available to us via phone tonight, although he was terse in his response, informing us that he wanted to get to bed.

When we asked him about the veracity of the notice, which did not come to us on the KHMH’s letterhead, Coye said, “…. if that is what the notice is saying, that is what it is.”

Regarding the salary dispute, Coye told us that, “This is something that is ongoing… and we have assurance that patients will all be taken care of [and] emergency services will not be discontinued.”

The initial demand by KHMH workers to be included in the 6% salary adjustment granted to teachers and public officers in 2014 came to the fore just before paychecks were issued last July.

At the time, KHMH chair, Chandra Nisbet-Cansino, told journalists that it was the unions that had asked that KHMH workers—numbering about 600—be excluded from the pool of workers who will receive the increase.

Cansino had informed that the KHMH board had taken up the initiative to write the Ministry of Finance on the matter and they were awaiting a reply.

Tonight, we asked Coye if he was aware of what the final word from the ministry was, but he told us that he has no recollection of the comments.

“Going into tomorrow, there is so much more to discuss,” Coye said.

Nisbet-Cansino had told the press that the KHMH gets a significant subvention from the Ministry of Finance, which goes primarily to staffing and paying its wage bill.

A Ministry of Health official told us today that the majority of KHMH staff work directly under the KHMH board, although there are some who are public officers.

The press release issued tonight informed that on Tuesday, July 14, “for the first time in the history, representatives of the Board of Governors from the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital Authority (KHMHA) met with members of Cabinet of the Government of Belize to discuss issues pertaining to the salary increases, pensions and benefits due to the employees of the national referral hospital.”

Not only was the issue of the pay raise put on the table, but also other concerns such as the funding of the newly built Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) and Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU).

The release later said that, “Although the Government of Belize was sympathetic about the situations at the KHMHA, the general consensus was that the employees of the KHMHA will not receive the past nor current salary increases, since the employees of the national referral hospital are not considered public officers, due to the fact that the Government views the KHMHA as a statutory body.”

The release added that as a consequence, the KHMH staff has set up a task force whose objective would be (1) to form a KHMHA workers’ union and (2) to negotiate on behalf of the KHMHA employees with the Board of Governors and/or Government until the KHMHA workers’ union is fully established and recognized. They reiterate their demand for a salary increase with retroactive effect.

Amandala


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#505952 - 07/18/15 10:51 AM Re: KHMH Staff Demands Raise, Cancels Clinics [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

KHMH Implements Go-Slow, Outpatient Services and Elective Surgeries Cancelled

Today, services at the country's national referral hospital - the KHMH - were cut back -after workers launched a kind of go-slow because government has not agreed to give them a 6% raise. As we've been reporting, the KHMH's 579 staffers are not considered public officers - so they did not qualify for the raises of pay given to public officers for the last two years. The Chairman of the KHMH Board of Governors made a special appeal to Cabinet on Tuesday - but the answer came back that the workers would have to form a bargaining unit - a union, just like the Teachers or Public Service Union.

That may be the legitimate process, but these workers feel they are long overdue, and the union requirement is just one more brush off. So, last night they announced that effective today all Outpatient Elective Services and Surgeries referred to the KHMHA would be cancelled. So what happened this morning?

Emergency care was un-interrupted, the day to day running of the wards continued without any glitches, clerk windows were open, but the clinics were closed, and no elective surgeries were performed, only urgent and emergency cases.

That's an administrative emergency for the Ministry of Health and today we asked the CEO what's happening, and how long it will last:..

Jules Vasquez
"What is the state of operation right now at the KHMH, sir do you know?"

Dr. Peter Allen, CEO - Ministry of Health
"Actually I don't know. I am a little surprised that any action is considered quite so soon. As far as I am aware, the board, as you know Karl Heusner is a statue authority with its own management and its own board of directors. As far as I am aware, there's been no formal communication or correspondence yet with the board of directors or with the management, but I shall certainly check that this morning and normally of course that would be the first thing that's done before any action is taken."

Jules Vasquez
"We are told that the response from the cabinet is that the KHMH 600 employees will not get the 6% they are asking for. Not at this time."

Dr. Peter Allen, CEO - Ministry of Health
"What I understood from the cabinet meeting essentially was that the way the process works for public officers was that an negotiating team sat down with the representatives of the public officers and looked at different efficiencies that could be made within the system and that possibilities in which revenues could be increased and that for those revenues that were increased and for efficiencies that were made, then a team of public officers and members of the government negotiating team would evaluate what was the increase and what could be distributed as salary raisers amongst public officers. My understanding was that cabinet essentially said let us follow the same process for Karl Heusner."

Jules Vasquez
"However, understandable, this have to have a process, but you can understand if every other worker in the health sector, every public clinic, every polyclinic - every health worker has gotten 19% in two years and the 600 persons that KHMH which is really the pivot upon which the entire health system operates. You can understand their impatience if they haven't gotten anything and are being told perhaps rightly that for 6% you must do things in a proper orderly fashion - we can't just throw 6% at you."

Dr. Peter Allen, CEO - Ministry of Health
"I agree with you and I think that's the point that I can certainly understand the staff requesting the same salary increases as other people doing similar jobs in the wider public service. I think the figure that was approximately being use was around about 2 million dollars. But it's recurrent. So, its 2 million a year to the recurrent budget. So, I think cabinet showed what I would characterized as "reasonable caution" to say yes we understand, but let us see how we can look at ways that Karl Heusner can serve the public even better than it does already."

Jules Vasquez
"Sir, but from the public's perspective, the public wants to know how long will my elective surgery be delayed or how long will my specialist clinic not be activated?"

Dr. Peter Allen, CEO - Ministry of Health
"Absolutely and I would certainly concur with the public on that. I myself use Karl Heusner as a patient and I would want to ask the same questions. As I say I am a little surprised that any action is being taken ahead of negotiations and so I would want to see if negotiations can be started that we do so at the very first opportunity."

The KHMH sent out a release this evening, saying, quote, "the KHMH…continues to provide the much needed emergency and critical care services to the public and reassures everyone that Emergency care, Urgent care and care for inpatients/hospitalized patients continues." IT adds, quote, "There is an agreement for discussions with the staff representatives to address their concerns. These discussions will include representatives from the Management team, Board of Governors, Ministry of Health and members of Cabinet."

The KHMH workers have formed a task force comprising a cross section representing of all employees. They will form a KHMH workers' union?to negotiate on behalf of the employees.

Channel 7


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#506006 - 07/21/15 09:54 AM Re: KHMH Staff Demands Raise, Cancels Clinics [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

KHMH Go-Slow Over, Staff Reps Meet With Ministerial Task Force

The go-slow at the KHMH is over - that's the bottom line coming out a meeting this evening between a team of eight staff representatives on one side, four Cabinet ministers on the other and the KHMH Board of governors in the middle. The Cabinet negotiating team comprises Ministers Patrick Faber, John Saldivar, Pablo Marin and Godwin Hulse - and that array of executive firepower suggests some urgency on Government's part - and right that there should be since the national referral hospital has been on go slow since last week.

The meeting started at 2:00 this afternoon in the KHMH conference Room - and we met Labor Minister Hulse going in:..

Hon. Godwin Hulse, Minister of Labour
"This afternoon's sit down was to try to clarify the points, try to find out exactly where we are and where we go from here. This is a tremendously important facility. The public service needs to be protected, the staff and the management, especially the staff has done an excellent job. Nobody has no major complaints and so government's position is that we have a sympathetic view but we need to sit down and be clear as to what we are talking about and where we go."

The meeting finished two and a half hours later - and coming out of it, we got to speak to senior ministers and the Board Chairman:,,

Hon. Patrick Faber, PART OF MINISTERIAL TASK FORCE
"We have agreed not to disclose the details of the meeting to the media, but I will tell you that there will be a joint release that will say that the meeting was amicable and Indeed it was, and that we now set up a process that will last a little while longer where we sit down and we engage all the parties to see how we can come up with improvements for the staff but also for the KHMH."

Jules Vasquez
"What the public wants to know is, when the 'go slow' stop, when will the business as usual, return to normal at the KHMH?"

Hon. Patrick Faber, PART OF MINISTERIAL TASK FORCE
"It returns to normal immediately, so that is a part of what the release will say."

Chandra Cansino, CHAIRMAN - KHMH
"Well the staff representatives need to go back and finalize with their people what they committed - to resuming normal operations which will basically include the normal services that Karl Heusner gives on a daily basis. To resorting that effective immediately."

Hon. Patrick Faber
"I'll tell you that the discussions were calm, very amicable and I believe that at the end of this process we will see some real change and movement in work at the KHMH hospital. But also the staff, I believe will come out very happy."

Jules Vasquez
"Sir, in as simple as we can say it, will they get a raise? If everything works out as you will have mapped it, is government inclined to say 'man hold here'?"

Hon. Patrick Faber
"I don't think anybody can answer that question. Again it is a process that we will engage in. and we will wait to see what the outcome of that will be."

Jules Vasquez
"If I were a staff member and I were to say, 'Ms. Chairman will they help us or will they not help us?' what would you say?"

Chandra Cansino
"I would say that I am unable to say exactly what the conversation was at this time. We agreed as a team that the board will form a team, management will form a team and we will sit down and get the information that we have agreed to provide. And we are going forward from there."

Jules Vasquez
"However, it is established that they do richly deserve it."

Chandra Cansino
"They do richly deserve it and every single member of staff of Karl Heusner knows that I think and the entire board thinks that they deserve it. so it is not a question of whether or not they deserve it, it is a question of making the presentation formally as the PSU has done for them to build their case. And provide commitments to both sides as to how we will improve Karl Heusner on a whole."

Jules Vasquez
"So, who is the bargaining unit on behalf of the KHMH staff? Is it the PSU?"

Chandra Cansino
"No, it is not the PSU. They are forming their own workers union. But in the interim they have a representation. I think in the meeting today there was about 8 or 9 persons and that will be narrowed down to 4 based on the staff. The staff will choose who they are and just as well the board will have a representation probably of about 4 persons as well. And plus the management team, and we will sit down and gather the data that we need to gather and to build our case."

Jules Vasquez
"Is this a requirement of the government of Belize that the KHMH has to make itself more sustainable in order for government to do the other half? And does that mean charging public officers more than two dollars a day when they are hospitalized here?"

Chandra Cansino
"The short answer to that is yes, those are some of the issues that we will need to explore. Our present building system, the amounts, because we charge a very subsidized price for services that you can get in the public sector for probably 10x sometimes as much as a 100x the price that you pay for it at KHMH. And we are going to revisit that system, a review I should say, because remember we have the involvement of the cabinet. So if it is that we will agree that we will continue to charge public officers two dollars a day, then the cabinet will be aware of this and they will have to provide whatever services these public officers are getting. Because it is money that the hospital is spending that it is not collecting. And so..."

Jules Vasquez
"Is it an anachronism, something that is out of date and should have been changed when it became an authority?"

Chandra Cansino
"Yes in my opinion, definitely yes. Because that is a class of persons who are able to pay the subsidized prices that Karl Heusner charges because they are working class."

Jules Vasquez
"have they been given a kind of raw deal in terms of every public health worker has received this 18/19% from the government. But there people have not."

Hon. Pablo Marin, MINISTER OF HEALTH
"Well I think if the first part was the PSU fighting for the increment and that include KHMH, as you know they are an essential service. I think that was the part that went wrong from the beginning. But now government is working along with them and things will happen for KHMH."

Jules Vasquez
"Things will happen, meaning, they will get their raise?"

Hon. Pablo Marin
"We will work with them, we will work along with them."

That joint press release was issued an hour ago. It confirms, quote, "An amicable meeting was held…where an agreement was made on the way forward...normal services will resume for all patients…as of today Monday July 20, 2015."

Now, both sides will appoint negotiating teams - which will work with urgency to agree on terms for moving forward, possibly with an increment and certainly with a plan for enhanced revenue collection at the KHMH. And, as you just heard, this will include some consideration from government in exchange for the eight to ten thousand public officers who are eligible for hospitalization at the KHMH for zero to two dollars per day.

And while they quibble over coin, real people got seriously affected during the go- slow. We spoke to one pregnant woman who suffers from seizures. She is in her 39th week of pregnancy with a due date for next week. But she was scheduled to have a C-section tomorrow because persons with seizures cannot risk going through labour. But when she showed up at the Hospital this morning, she was turned back; she says they told her they were not taking new admissions. She has been assured that she will be admitted tomorrow.

Another man form Palmar village says he has been waiting a week them to perform surgery on his son Ervin Cantun. Adolfo Cantun says his son was chopped up but the surgery was pushed back due to the go slow:

Jules Vasquez
"Your son has been in here for?"

Adolfo Cantun, PALMAR VILLAGER
"Eight days from today."

Jules Vasquez
"And you are saying that he hasn't received a surgery he needs?"

Adolfo Cantun
"No he hasn't received any because of this 'slow down' that is happening here in Belize in the hospital."

Jules Vasquez
"Okay and you have been told that no surgery for him..."

Adolfo Cantun
"No, they told me that he will get a surgery but nothing has happened since Monday until today. So I am waiting for something to happen because nothing is going on."

Jules Vasquez
"And how is his condition right now?"

Adolfo Cantun
"He is trying to get a little bit more better every day but he needs a surgery for his face and arm."

Jules Vasquez
"And are you concerned that his condition might get worse and he still doesn't get the surgery?"

Adolfo Cantun
"I hope it doesn't happen like that, but I think it might go on... "

Jules Vasquez
"You must be losing your patience a little though Mr. Cantun."

Adolfo Cantun
"I have to be losing my patience because it's been here 8 days from today."

Since the go slow is now over, tomorrow we will check up on Cantun.

Channel 7


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