Spokesman story misleading, incomplete

We are currently in mediations. Look for an update tonight. #

Yesterday morning, just one day before we entered a critical negotiation at Providence Sacred Heart, the Spokesman-Review published a story that is incomplete and inaccurate. Frankly, the story could have been written by corporate PR at Providence.

This article was a hit job by Providence. Management gave the Spokesman misleading information in a way that is timed to weaken our position at the bargaining table as we work to secure a fair contract that protects our earned benefits and invests in patient care. We are pushing back hard, and we need every worker and ally to know the facts and help us fight back.

WSNA is contacting the Spokesman-Review to demand they address the incomplete information in the article, and the fact that they did not even approach WSNA for comment despite explicitly mentioning our contract negotiations.

In the meantime, we must ensure that our members and our community know the facts, not the corporate spin. This email includes critical information to help unmask this story for the corporate hit job it is. Let’s look at some of the critical information and the real truth.

IS SACRED HEART LOSING MONEY? NO. The article claims Providence Sacred Heart has been running in the red since 2016. But the facts tell a different story. Sacred Heart has been profitable two of those three years when you include non-operating revenue, which can cover everything from securities investments to parking and real estate. This income more than made up for operating losses in 2016 and 2017.

CORPORATE PROFITS ARE SKY-HIGH:Providence Sacred Heart is part of Providence St. Joseph Health (PSJH), the third-largest health system in the United States. In the first half of 2019 alone, PSJH made over $1 billion in profit system-wide. Indeed, the corporation is making enough money to pour $300 million into their own venture capital firm. Certainly, there is enough money to invest in frontline workers and patient care, and far more than enough to cover any alleged operating losses at a single hospital.

EXECUTIVES MAKING MILLIONS: Providence is making enough money to give CEO Rod Hochman a 157% raise between 2015 and 2017, bumping his total compensation to more than $10 million. Top executives at Corporate Headquarters aren’t the only ones getting huge raises. Current Chief Executive at Sacred Heart Peg Curry earned more than $1.2 million in 2018 including a one-year bonus of $131,812. As Chief Nursing Officer, Susan Stacey’s total compensation increased by 35% between 2015 and 2018 including bonuses totaling $97,638. Previous Chief Executive Officer Alex Jackson’s total compensation increased by 47% between 2015 and 2017 including bonuses totaling $668, 468.

Total compensation for highest Sacred Heart employees:


MONEY GOING OUT OF SPOKANE TO CORPORATE: Belonging to a larger health system means that more money is leaving the Spokane community. In 2018, Providence Saint Joseph Health charged Sacred Heart more than $200 million in home office costs relating primarily to administration, not direct patient care. Of the nearly $900 million in net patient revenue that Sacred Heart earned in 2018, home office costs absorbed more than 20% of Sacred Heart’s revenue. From 2015 to 2018, home office costs increased nearly $40 million, a 24% increase. By way of comparison, over that same period, Sacred Heart employee salaries, wages, and benefits increased 16% (WA DOH).


NURSE TURNOVER COSTS MILLIONS: Even the industry lobbyist quoted in this story acknowledges that a shortage of qualified nurses and the high cost of nurse turnover is driving operating losses in healthcare. Studies show that the average hospital spends $4.4 to $6.9 million each year to recruit, train and orient new nurses - $52,100 per nurse, on average. How can Providence expect to recruit and retain qualified nurses at Sacred Heart if they steal our earned benefits and cut staffing to the bone? Their proposed contract will only lead to more turnover, higher costs to replace departing nurses, and more trouble recruiting replacements.

THIS DOES NOT ALIGN WITH PROVIDENCE’S MISSION: Providence’s stated mission reads: “As expressions of God's healing love, witnessed through the ministry of Jesus, we are steadfast in serving all, especially those who are poor and vulnerable.” It is offensive and hypocritical for Sacred Heart to turn around and complain that Medicare and Medicaid patients are hurting their bottom line—especially when Sacred Heart is operating in the black and Providence St. Joseph Health system is earning billions in profits.

OUR COMMUNITY STANDS WITH US: As we have seen over and over, our community stands with us. Let’s engage with respect and solidarity to beat back this corporate spin.

WHAT NURSES CAN DO TODAY: We need to make sure our community knows that story is nothing more than corporate spin. Here are a couple of ways you can help RIGHT NOW:

We’ll continue to stand together, speak from our values and advocate for a fair deal for ourselves and investment in our patients. That’s the only way we will beat back these corporate smears and secure a contract we can all be proud of.

Local unit meeting
Dec. 12, 2019
8 a.m., 1:30 p.m., 4 p.m., 8 p.m.
Spokane Labor Council
510 S Elm