2012-01-06 / Front Page

PHC And Local 1199 Heal Breach

By Howard Schwach

The Wave has learned that a deal has been cut between the struggling Peninsula Hospital Center and its major secured creditor, Local 1199 of the SIEU healthcare union that would go a long way to facilitating bankruptcy and bring the hospital back to fiscal health.

Hospital sources confirmed on Thursday morning that Revival Home Health Care, the new operators of the facility, would provide $10 million over the next three years to pay off the $20 million debt owed by PHC to the union.

The breach between PHC and 1199 was one of the major stumbling blocks to setting up a bankruptcy plan.

Hospital CEO Todd Miller said that the deal was actually worked out before the holiday season. “I’m excited about the deal because it was the one issue we needed to resolve before we could resolve the bankruptcy issue,” Miller said. Now, we can have a reorganization plan in place by the end of January and make plans to exit from the bankruptcy.”

He added, “We have a new certified director for our emergency room and have a good mix of local entrenched doctors and new hires that will move the hospital forward. We have a new Chief Operating Officer, David Masini, who has come to us after 20 years at St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital. We have a new director of strategic planning, and we are moving ahead.”

Dr. Wayne Dodakian, who had been a critic of the past hospital administration, told Daily News reporter Irving DeJohn that he’s seen admission time plummet since the new regime took over, a vital cost saving measure.

“That’s a huge game changer,” Dodakian said. “There was an air of gloom over this place [before].”

The hospital had been in a slow decline for more than a decade, and the situation came to a head last summer, with the state ordering the hospital to stop its emergency services and to ban all new admissions.

In the wake of community protests and the determined work of several of the hospital’s local board members, the state reversed its orders and allowed the hospital to stay open with truncated services.

Those board members then brought in a “White Knight” in the form of Revival, which took over the hospital’s operations in September, promising $8 million in up-front cash for salary and operating expenses and another $12 million to pay off creditors.

Revival, a for-profit corporation that runs nursing homes and ambulette companies, took over and brought in its own CEO, Todd Miller, to run the hospital.

A bankruptcy trustee and the federal judge assigned to the case, however, challenged Revival’s governance of the non-profit hospital.

The deal cut with 1199 should help the bankruptcy get back on track, experts say, but those questions about Revival remain.

Insiders charge that Miller has been ridding the hospital of its longtime doctors and bringing in less-qualified doctors aligned with Revival.

Some staff members, however, told The News that things are changing for the better.

“We have been challenged. We’ve all been taken out of our comfort zone,” said Jeannie Butler, a nurse at Peninsula for 36 years.

Peggy Frontera, a nurse for 37 years, said when her son needed an emergency appendectomy last month, she took him to Peninsula, something she admits she wouldn’t have done in August when there was “panic.”

“I was confident enough to bring my son here,” she said.

Eisen Alimerio, a critical care nurse, said that after a hard-fought battle to keep the facility afloat, employees are doing more with less.

“Everyone is working on a different level,” he said.

“There’s nothing that’s preventing us from moving forward as planned,” Miller told DeJohn.

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