Sunday, March 9, 2014

The Black Cloud Continues to Follow

All drama aside, the one thing that seemed to be stabilizing was my new job in management. For over a decade I've been the grunt on the radiology front line shooting xrays and performing CT scans and ultrasounds. I was a night owl on the graveyard shift and was quite comfortable there. My favorite aspect was being left to do my work and not having many folks around to distract.

Then fate catapulted me into management and I slowly settled into an 8 to 5 Monday through Friday job. House fire aside, I seemed to be taking to the duties pretty well. I have my own office replete with papers scattered everywhere. I have overhead compartments to stash my own trash bags in for those times when housekeeping forgets my new office exists.

I designed my corporate email signature and established my voicemail. I keep my business cards close at hand in case an impromptu meeting springs up and I'm required to press palms. It has been pretty nice when you boil it all down. I get to take half the kids to school in the morning and sometimes we even stop for breakfast...if we're ahead of schedule. I'm home in the evening for dinner and homework before we settle in for the night.

Last Tuesday was a little say the least. Wifey was informed that if she went to a few caregiver classes she would qualify for some type of monthly stipend to help take care of her mom in our house. Having Wifey removed from the daily routine for a few days meant reconfiguring my day. I decided it easier to just take the day off and spend it running kids around from school to track to church functions. At least...that was the plan.

Around noon, as I was about to pull into a Subway and enjoy my favorite footlong sandwich with Sis, I got a phone call from my boss. He was my Director and I was his loyal Manager. He asked how long it would take me to get to work (as in "come in right now") so I hesitantly said "30 minutes." Sis and I darted into Subway, grabbed our sammies and headed to our rental house across the street.

The slow drive to work was one of those "oh no, what did I do" moments. Why was he calling me in? I parked in the restricted parking lot instead of the one on the other side of town (so it seems) like I usually do. I didn't plan on being there for long so I wanted a quick get away.

No sooner had I walked into my office and began to sit my shoulder bag on my desk did an employee say to me "I'm sorry about the reconstruction." Bewildered as to why he would mention a construction project that was slated for next fiscal year I replied "Bud, that's not until next year." His head jilted to the side and he stammered for a second, his eyes making contact with my jacket and bag. "Did you just get here," he asked?

"No, I ALWAYS wear a coat and carry my bag around with me," I chuckled. That's when he almost whispered, "You haven't heard yet, have you?"

"Heard what?"

"The boss has been laid off." he said.

Right then my boss, our Director, came walking around the corner. The man who helped bring my family together by offering me this job and he was pale as a ghost. This was the man whom I called while my house was burning to the ground because he was the only person I knew in this town at the time. Standing before me now was my best friend and boss...who after 15 years of loyalty, had his world turned upside down.

It was like any other day for him. Same job for the last 15 years, although he had worked his way up the ladder from Xray Tech to Manager to Director. He was called into a meeting in Human Resources and was shocked to be greeted by an HR Manager in tears. "What the...?" he thought. Then he was handed a generic white folder containing his severance package. "You are terminated immediately. I need your badge please," she said between tears.

When the dust finally settled about an hour later, four Vice Presidents and five Directors were gone. No one at my level (Mananger) or lower was affected. The "official" story, as told to us in a meeting about an hour later in a forum meeting, was that the Administration (three Admins) could see the storm coming from Obamacare. They said it was unstoppable that our reimbursements were going to go down in a big way. Rather than wait for us to run into the wall head-on, they opted to do a preemptive strike and reduce costs now. Heresay estimates they saved a cool $2 million dollars annually laying off those nine administrators.

This was hard to stomach as I gazed at our cafeteria  which was vastly under construction to get a face lift. "We had money for that" I thought to myself. My boss left that day with an empty look on his face. Sniffles were heard throughout the halls of our department for the rest of the day. It was replaced the following day with anger. One of the last things he said to me before he left his office was "They're going to expect you to keep doing your job...and start doing mine too."

And so it began. Phone call after phone call of people introducing themselves and where they had been on such-and-such project with my boss. My office door became the cliche revolving door as droves of people came in and out with questions and condolences, problems and projects. My 8-5 has turned into an 8-10 as I stayed later and later trying to keep up.

In essence, we have two hospitals in our system and each had their own Director. Administration decided to layoff half the administration and require one Director to be in charge of two hospitals for every department. Some Directors are in charge of multiple departments at both hospitals.I don't envy any of them. I'll be officially meeting my new Director next week when we sit down and I try my best to tell her everything that is going on at my facility.

Wish me luck...and her.


PS. On the bright side, Boo and I build a tree swing today in the front yard. Smiles abound!


  1. Prayers for your friend & former boss from here, to find something that will work better for himself & his family. When I oriented new RNs, I emphasized to them that hospitals will willingly take anything you will give up - - birthdays, graduations, anniversaries, weddings,births, blessings, baptisms, etc... and they are an ungrateful sponge. When they have soaked you dry, they toss you & go on to the "next one". I told them to take the overtime if they needed it, but to always remember that a hospital is an ungrateful sponge.

  2. This just recently happened here too.. middle mgmt was thinned wayyyy down. Obamacare again. Hospitals know their reimbursements are going way down and their own healthcare costs for employees are going up. Some docs saw their pay going down and quit. See nurse practitioners replacing docs, med assistants doing nurse jobs, etc. in the near future.

  3. This just happened to my husband (lower management, not in healthcare)! He thought he was the most expendable one in his department. He hurt his back and took a day off. He got a phone call halfway into the day, and learned he was the last man standing. His boss and his coworker had been let go. He had been kept completely in the dark.

    He found himself doing all three jobs for a couple of months, but eventually some of the work of the other two was divvied up among other employees. Then his position was split in two, and he got a significant raise.

    So it has ended up well for my husband, but my heart still hurts from hearing of the tears and shock around the home office at the letting go of the other men. One is caring for a sick wife, and could ill afford the job loss.

    Good luck to you and your new director, and the director who was fired.

  4. Our LTC facility was bought out by another company almost a year ago. They were quite generous for the first 6 months or so, kept everyone's schedules and wages the same, until we managed to get off the SFF (don't ask). Once we cleared that last state survey, the hatchet came out. 1/3 of the staff cut through attrition, the aides' schedules were changed so they only have every 6th weekend off, nurses with 25-30 subacute patients... it's getting dangerous out there.

    Thanks, dims...

  5. I knew that this would happen with Obamacare. You cannot promise the moon without stealing the moonlight-it's just that simple. The same thing is going on in other companies; fire someone, divide their former job duties into pieces and make other employees do them. The telecoms made a science out of this 10 years ago. The difference is; healthcare affects people in an up close and personal way. Some health issues get a one time shot on diagnosis, care, and follow up. Depending on the disease, there might not be time for a "specialist" (ie real medical doctor). Everything in this country is being dumbed down with horrible results. So sorry for what has happened to you and your friend. It is a shock and almost a physical blow, when you go through this.
    -Stealth Spaniel

  6. It just gets better and better doesn't it.

  7. OJD,
    I'm sorry buddy and I've been there and seen that. Like someone said, Telecoms and Big Banks have this down to a science. Sadly for me I have worked for both a telecom, big bank, and now a hospital in IT. I've seen this time and time again and it is the reason that I decided 6 years ago to forget about management and stay a high level engineer. No matter what, they need people to do the work and even if you get cut one place, you can find something else at another company. It's much harder for managers to get another gig from what I've seen.

    As someone above said, I work at a hospital and Obamacare is going to destroy healthcare in this country. What happened to OJD's hospital is happening ALL OVER THE COUNTRY !!! Besides squeezing providers, they are also going to start denying people's claims, especially if you are elderly. People are going to rue the day they voted for Obama when this is all over.
    Keep your head down OJD and take care of your family.

  8. Its going to get a lot worse, more bricks, less straw.......

  9. Has anyone said "work smarter not harder" yet? That one always pissed me off...

  10. So far there haven't been any cuts to personnel at our home health agency, but the insurance companies have gone nuts with reimbursement: if a client needs PT, they get nursing. If they need nursing, PT is authorized, if they need rehab, they get home health with no PT. it's crazy.

  11. It's happening at my hospital in SC right now. The doctors were told not to accept Obama care insurance. Guess we will see how that works out. Staff is cut to the bone already so I'm not sure what else is left.

  12. Tears came when I read the post. It's sad.


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