Thursday, October 25, 2007

Arbitrator Finds Yale-New Haven Hospital "Spreading Disinformation"

Several Connecticut newspapers have reported on findings against prestigious Yale-New Haven Hospital, the main teaching hospital for Yale University, by an independent arbitrator. Per the Hartfourd Courant,

Arbitrator Margaret Kern said the hospital ruined any chance for a fair election by intimidating union supporters and spreading misinformation.

She ordered the hospital to pay SEIU $2.3 million, to cover its organizing expenses and $2.2 million to about 1,700 hospital employees eligible to vote in the election. The second figure is the amount Yale-New Haven paid to IRI Consultants to Management Inc., the company it hired to coordinate its campaign against the union.

'Employees were deprived of the right to truthful information, the right to do their job uninterrupted by solicitation, and the right not to participate in captive audience meetings,' wrote Kern.

The New Haven Register reported that after a long standing labor dispute, Yale-New Haven Hospital and the union agreed

not to disparage each other and to conduct a factual campaign. The hospital also committed to not initiate one-on-one conversations with workers; not conduct mandatory meetings; not use consultants to abrogate the agreement, while also promising to abide by the arbitrator’s rulings.

Kern found Y-NH violated all these points, conducting 98 mandatory meetings where workers were forced to listen to managers’ 'feelings and fears' about the union and misrepresentations about the hot button issue of union dues.

She said there was strong evidence that the consultants were keeping a running count of the workers’ leanings and that the violations were not the work of a 'few rogue managers.'

'The employer’s conduct here was a methodical dismantling of the terms and commitments of the election principles agreement
,' Kern said.

I can understand that the hospital may have had rational reasons not to want the union to organize its workers. But it seems to make some promises Yale-New Haven makes in its mission statement, including

To provide sensitive, high quality, cost effective health care services to all patients, regardless of ability to pay.

To serve the community as a public health advocate and provide support and services which respond to the area's health care needs through health education, health promotion and access to care.

ring pretty hollow, after the hospital has been found to be "intimidating union supporters and spreading misinformation."

Would you trust a hospital management who spreads "disinformation" as part of a labor dispute to really support the best patient care, teaching, research, and community service?

Spreading disinformation also does not exactly fit with Yale University's motto, "lux et veritas," light and truth.

This seems to be another example of mission hostile management, this time by the leaders of one of America's premier medical centers.


InformaticsMD said...

This is no surprise, but it is a disappointment.

Yale and Yale-New Haven Hospital (separate organizations, but sharing many of the same people) have great potential to live up to the motto "Lux et Veritas", but cannot and will not do so due to debilitation by moral relativism and malignant narcissism. There are fine people at Yale and Yale-New Haven Hospital, but as several told me during my time there, they felt intimidated by the bad actors, many in high positions of authority.

My own detailed story about my disappointments with Yale is at this link.

At that link is a detailed case example of wasted resources and opportunity, attempted misappropriation of intellectual property by prominent tenured faculty for private use, unauthorized practice of law in the Office of the General Counsel, blacklisting, extortion, and retaliation treated with a blind eye and silence by university officials at a prominent university, leading to an impaired effort to implement clinical information technology.

Finally, the story "Murder and Mendacity in Academe", while an extreme example, unfortunately captures the essence of dysfunction of too manhy in academic leadership positions well.

Anonymous said...

This story, like others on this blog, point out the very local nature of medicine. These stories do not make the national news, but taken collectively, show a systemic moral decline in medicine.

Shane Hoover in the Oct. 25th Canton Repository highlights how a local cardiologist told healthy patients they had heart problems requiring unnecessary test that were then billed to Medicaid and Medicare.

He enlisted the help of another doctor by extorting his immigration status to assure compliance with the scheme. The resolution of the case will be a $1.9M forfeiture and loss of his medical license. The other doctor had charges dismissed due to the extortion.

As I flipped the page to finish this story I saw an AP headline focusing on a Troy, Ohio pediatrician with 1,700 pornographic images of children. This doctor was caught as part of a federal investigation into sexual predators.

Time and time again we see those in the medical community wrapping themselves in the mantel of “Care giver” only to find, like in other areas, these people lacking. While it would be easy to state that in any large group you will always have those who represent the worse in human nature, medicine is an area we cannot allow this behavior.

Doctors need to be aware that as these situations grow there will be increased regulations, and a decrease in status. The resulting constraints will only increase the pressure now felt by physicians, leaving us with an even larger population of disgruntled professionals, plagued by conflicts of interest and ethical issues.

Steve Lucas

Anonymous said...


Excellent insight. With your permission, I would like to use your final two paragraphs (or perhaps parts of them) to respond to posts I encounter as I surf through med/pharma blogsites. I see numerous MD's continue to extol their virtues (both their own and the profession in general) and berate consumers/patients for questioning less-than-virtuous behaviors.


Anonymous said...


Feel free to quote me. It is simply the way I feel based on my personal experience.

Steve Lucas