Contract settlement good for LifePoint, nurses, community

We wanted to wait for the dust to settle following the contract agreement between UP Health System-Marquette and the registered nurses represented by the Michigan Nurses Association to make a comment. Now that the dust has settled, we want to congratulate both sides for coming up with a new four-year contract that appears to be a positive step in the right direction for all concerned.

There was obvious damage to the reputation of the hospital during negotiations. Accusations made by the MNA reflected poorly on the hospital. Now that the new agreement has been approved, we hope both sides come together and work to win back the confidence of the community in terms of the quality of care provided by the hospital.

The recent Leap Frog report showing the improvement from a C to an A rating shows that when the nurses, administration and all other hospital employees work together, they can accomplish great things. We know that most workers at the hospital are good Yooper employees who really care about their patients and want to offer the best care available.

The outmigration of patients who leave the area for their medical care escalated over the last couple of years. Rumors about the quality of care at UP Health System-Marquette have taken a toll on the hospital patient census. Now that the new contract is settled, it is time for the community to regain its confidence in the hospital.

To maintain a quality hospital locally, we as a community need to support our local hospital. Duke Lifepoint is investing $300 million in our community to provide a new state-of-the-art hospital. The hospital is primarily staffed with our friends and neighbors, and just like any business, the community has to support the hospital to keep it strong and successful.

A large part of the negative publicity directed at Duke Lifepoint related to the loss of doctors, and reduction of staff are universal problems within the health care industry. Hospitals are closing throughout the United States because they can’t pay the bills. If Duke LifePoint had not purchased Marquette General, there is a real possibility that our local hospital would have had to close. DLP also took the first step in making sure the pension fund at the hospital was made whole.

Marquette General could not have made the pension fund whole and continued to operate the business. Tough choices have to be made to keep a business running successfully, and companies willing to make those tough choices will stay alive and prosper in the future. We believe that to be the case with DLP.

An example of challenges in the health care industry is evident in Iron Mountain, where the Dickinson County Memorial Hospital is in real financial trouble. They have run a good hospital that is very well respected and has had top ratings for the quality of care they provide. The problem is the revenue is not large enough to cover expenses. Eventually when the revenue doesn’t cover the expenses something has to give and that may mean closing the hospital. Bellin Health out of Wisconsin looked into purchasing the Dickinson hospital, but withdrew when they realized how significant the financial problems were.

There are other hospitals in the Upper Peninsula that are also having financial troubles. The health care industry is very challenging. If you don’t make the changes necessary to keep the cash flow coming in, the hospitals will not survive.

The future for UP Health System-Marquette is largely dependent on the people in this community making the decision to have their health care needs taken care of locally. Many of the concerns that patients may have had have been resolved by the hospital.

We believe that the quality of care offered by local doctors and the local hospital is very good. All things may not be perfect yet, but we have seen a real effort on the part of the hospital to improve the quality of care. We encourage our community to get behind your local hospital and friends and neighbors who work there. Let’s keep our local hospital strong. Consider choosing UP Health System-Marquette for future medical needs.