Appleton, WI

The ThedaCare Vs Ascension Saga: Where Employees Tend To Lose Big Time.

National Cancer Institute/Unsplash

It's interesting to see lawsuits unfurling in Appleton, Wisconsin for reasons such as preventing employees from resigning. As it is in the case of ThedaCare, which alleges that a majority of its 11-member strong interventional radiology and cardiovascular team were packing up and leaving for their rivals at Ascension. So much so that a court injunction has been filed to stop those people from starting work at Ascension on Monday. That injuction would potentially halt the movement of these staff members for 90 days.

The COVID-19 pandemic has taken its toll on healthcare workers, that is for sure.

It is said that there was a massive reduction in the number of employed healthcare workers:

18% of health care workers have quit their jobs during the COVID-19 pandemic, while another 12% have been laid off.

Even as the pandemic rages on, and there is a heavy workload of medical cases to deal with, healthcare workers are either resigning or being laid off because of pressing concerns with "COVID-19, poor pay and burnout".

In the case of ThedaCare? There was no difference.

As it is mentioned in this article:

Rather, one member of the team applied for a job with Ascension Wisconsin and received a much better offer than expected, which led others on the team to apply.

That makes sense. If I am dissatisfied with the wages and benefits that I am currently getting with a certain company, I could consider other employment options elsewhere that can provide me with what I value my skillset at.

Also, it was mentioned that the employees were hired at-will, which means that they can be dismissed by the company at any time for any reason without any warning, and similarly they can do the same in return to their company:

The employees were part of an 11-member interventional radiology and cardiovascular team, which can perform procedures to stop bleeding in targeted areas during a traumatic injury or restore blood flow to the brain in the case of a stroke. Each of them were employed at-will, meaning they were not under an obligation to stay at ThedaCare for a certain amount of time. 

So now, we have a situation where employees choose to leave one company to join another because the offers were better.

Let's get to the pressure point right now.

ThedaCare had weeks to come up with better offers to keep their employees or figure out alternate staffing solutions and instead chose to initiate court action days before the workers were set to start at Ascension, resulting in "a mess of ThedaCare's own making." 

So here we haeve a situation where the employee is supposedly free to leave ThedaCare at any time they wish to, but when they choose to do so in search of greener pastures (at Ascension, just a few miles away from ThedaCare in Appleton), ThedaCare cries foul and applies for an injunction.

Now, ThedaCare was given the opportunity to make a counter-offer for a better compensation package but they declined, and they're crying foul over the situation that their status will be affected because of the departure of a majority of this radiology and cardiovascular team?

You can't have your cake and eat it.

Marie Antoinette tried it, and we see what happened to her eventually.

We humans aren't working necessarily just because we're altruistic - many people use their skills and their work to earn money to feed themselves and their families.

According to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, ThedaCare is classified as a Level II Trauma Center, while Ascension is classified as a Level III Trauma Center. A Level II Trauma Center is able to provide a higher level of care and support than a Level III Trauma Center, and the decimation of this 11-member team would severely limit ThedaCare's ability to provide that Level II support.

Now the question is...

If these 11 members were offered a better compensation scheme to commensurate with their status as Level II Trauma Center care providers at ThedaCare, would they have thought twice about jumping ship to Ascension?

We'll never know, because ThedaCare did not even CARE to provide that option.

But what ThedaCare wants, after all, to have its cake and eat it.

Hire employees at-will but not allowing them to leave at-will.

Hire employees at a certain wage but not allowing them to leave for better wages.

Basically, entrap the employees based on what is best for business.

After all, if an employee has to be paid more, it means that the administrators will have to get paid less.

And even back in 2014, it was seen that the top earners in healthcare were in the administrative side of things:

The base pay of insurance executives, hospital executives and even hospital administrators often far outstrips doctors’ salaries, according to an analysis performed for The New York Times by Compdata Surveys: $584,000 on average for an insurance chief executive officer, $386,000 for a hospital C.E.O. and $237,000 for a hospital administrator, compared with $306,000 for a surgeon and $185,000 for a general doctor.

Wanting to have your cake and eat it, while denying others the chance to do so?

That's pure, unbridled human greed right there.

Especially when Lynn Detterman, the Senior Vice President of ThedaCare's south region (another hospital administrator, of course!) so eloquently puts it:

To be focused on this (court action) instead of (the pandemic) is just so disappointing.

Perhaps you could have offered to pay them better, no?

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