Native medical doctors say they’ve misplaced confidence in Santa Clara County management after seeing the pinnacle government downplay the loss of life of their colleague.
San José Highlight obtained an electronic mail despatched from County Govt Jeff Smith to county well being care employees after Dr. Amul Jobalia died by suicide in his workplace in Might. Jobalia was a nephrologist at Santa Clara Valley Medical Heart for roughly twenty years.
The e-mail went out to hundreds of individuals within the county hospital system the day after the physician’s loss of life.
“All of us mourn the large lack of Dr. Jobalia. I want you all power and solace on this unhappy time. We pray particularly for his household!” Smith stated within the electronic mail.
Docs say Smith’s temporary electronic mail got here throughout as tone-deaf, because the workforce reeled from the sudden tragedy. County physicians stated the curt electronic mail was the final straw for a lot of who have been already pissed off with ongoing office points.
“All people was grieving, or unhappy and confused. They have been searching for a frontrunner to offer help and solace,” Steve Harris, chairman of Valley Doctor Group, informed San José Highlight. The union represents greater than 450 county-employed medical doctors at three public hospitals. “This electronic mail was such a profoundly perfunctory observe, it was not a condolence. He didn’t even take the minimal period of time or effort, and it struck individuals as (such).”
Jobalia was an impactful physician at Valley Medical Heart, beloved by sufferers and employees, he added.
County medical doctors responded to Smith saying they have been livid and devastated by his electronic mail, including they have been “fed up with (his) inept management fashion.” Smith responded with one other electronic mail, thanking VMC well being care employees for sharing their emotions. The medical doctors famous he didn’t apologize for the primary electronic mail.
The emails are coming to mild as county physicians combat for a brand new contract, demanding the county enhance pay, rent extra employees, rethink workload and embody them within the decision-making course of. Negotiations have dragged on for greater than 18 months.
Smith stated the union’s grievances stem from disagreements over the contract.
“That is only a political (ploy) for the negotiating workforce to attempt to faux there’s an issue with VMC,” Smith informed San José Highlight, including the county has created a number of hundred new positions to help physicians and allotted funding for brand new tools. “There’s no downside with high quality. There’s no downside with retention. There’s no downside with recruitment.”
However radiologists at VMC beforehand informed San José Highlight some tools funded years in the past by no means arrived or was by no means put in. In a single case, the division remains to be ready for a brand new machine funded six years in the past. Some machines are greater than 23 years outdated, technologists stated, leading to a backlog of tons of of sufferers and months-long waits for essential scans.
Smith stated medical doctors are asking for raises that might give some specialists upward of $1 million in annual wage.
“We simply can’t suggest that to the (board of supervisors),” Smith stated. “The negotiating workforce has been unreasonable on the desk.”
Smith added Jobalia’s loss of life—and a current suicide try by one other VMC physician—has nothing to do with the continuing points between the county and the union.
“It’s fairly despicable that among the medical doctors in management try to say that this has one thing to do with their contract,” he stated. “We’re very assured we’ll get a contract quickly after which issues might be again to regular.”
County medical doctors stated they’ve raised issues years earlier than contract negotiations.
Issues comparable to power employees shortages, heavy workload and lengthy waits for life-saving procedures are rampant at a number of departments in VMC, well being care employees informed San José Highlight. The unresolved points have left physicians on the county hospital system demoralized and pissed off, as directors hold ignoring their issues, medical doctors stated.
Well being care employees are working lengthy hours, taking up the job of two or three individuals, and in some circumstances having to look at their sufferers’ well being deteriorate due to the shortage of employees and decrepit tools—all whereas working and not using a contract for greater than a 12 months.
Greater than 50 well being care employees rallied in entrance of VMC final month to convey extra consciousness to the difficulty. 9 VMC medical doctors delivered a petition signed by 3,500 employees and residents to the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors in June demanding higher pay and dealing situations.
Some medical doctors stated Smith’s dismissal of their issues as negotiation techniques exhibits his disdain for his or her well-being.
“It’s a willful disregard and denial of what’s really occurring,” a health care provider informed San José Highlight. “How are we alleged to believe or religion (in) anyone to appropriate these points?”
San José Highlight just isn’t naming VMC employees who concern retaliation.
Some physicians need the board of supervisors to step in and demand systematic modifications at county hospitals. Supervisors Otto Lee, Cindy Chavez and Susan Ellenberg declined to remark because of the ongoing negotiation course of. Supervisor Joe Simitian was not accessible for remark and Supervisor Mike Wasserman didn’t reply to inquiries on the difficulty.
“The county government and all people else within the administration wants to know and listen to loud and clear that (Valley Doctor Group) isn’t going away after negotiations are over,” Harris stated. “(Smith) is sorely mistaken if he thinks we’re going to cease calling out issues at VMC once we see them, as a result of we’re not.”
Contact Tran Nguyen at [email protected] or comply with @nguyenntrann on Twitter.
Editor’s Notice: If you happen to or somebody you already know could also be contemplating suicide or in psychological well being disaster, dial 988 the psychological well being disaster hotline, or the Disaster Textual content Line by texting HOME to 741741.