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Jun 23, 2020

Cutting Cost in the Ministry of Health during COVID-19 Pandemic

Marvin Manzanero

As border jumpers present a real threat to the health system, the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital Authority Workers Union is engaged in discussions with the hospital’s C.E.O. and management regarding cost-cutting measures. One of those measures involves the termination of professional contracts.  In May, the K.H.M.H.A. cut ties with Ophthalmologist, Doctor Amin Hegar. Last week, Doctor Fernando Cuellar received a letter informing him that his service at the Adult Intensive Care Unit is no longer required with effect June first, 2020.  The K.H.M.H.A. Workers Union has appointed Andrew Baird and Evan Dawson to represent members in the negotiations. It was agreed by both the union and management that the meeting remains confidential until a comprehensive review of the finances is completed by both parties and acceptable areas of cost-cutting are identified. The Union says that it aims to protect the wages and employment of the staff and is asking for written proof of budget cuts, full disclosure of financial records from April 2019 to March 2020, financial breakdown in specific areas of interest, and management’s contributions to the cost-cutting exercise. In a pamphlet circulated to union members, the Union informs that the requests made have fallen on deaf ears as they were never brought forward to the union. The union also makes it quite clear that the seven proposals by the C.E.O. were not agreed to. The union notes the proposals were focused on the contributions of the staff only. The cost-cutting measures are something that the Ministry of Health has asked health regions to carry out. Director of Health Services, Director Marvin Manzanero says regional health managers identified several areas were expenses can be reduced including overtime.

 

Dr. Marvin Manzanero, Director of Health Services

“Every region was asked to see where they could cut and they make their own determination. We are looking at the issue of overtime because I know that there was a statement that indicated twenty hours of overtime but we are trying to see how feasible that is given the dynamic of the health system.”

 

Hipolito Novelo

“Is the K.H.M.H. part of that discussion even though it is a statutory body?”

 

Dr. Marvin Manzanero

“No, they have had their own separate discussions in terms of their cost cutting measures. That was independent upon what the regions were asked to do.  They have submitted their proposal of where they can cut measures and that has been discussed at two board meetings.”

 

Hipolito Novelo

“How much money would you say that the ministry is looking to save?”

 

Dr. Marvin Manzanero

“I don’t know if we have a ball park figure. You cannot cut back on services and expect to be delivering the same services that you are anticipated to give so I don’t know if there is a straight line to the Ministry of Health.”

 

Hipolito Novelo

“But laying off, or the laying of officers or health officials is not on the table, or touching their wages?”

 

Dr. Marvin Manzanero

“Not that I am aware of.”


Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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