If Neighbors Seem Adversarial aka What’s Wrong With What Providence Does?

At a neighborhood meeting not that long ago, comments were made that indicated that Providence Corporation thinks the neighbors in the Providence Portland area are adversarial.

Yes, that’s what my sources say.

  • We want crossings marked so the seniors who live at Emilie House can safely cross to the bus stop. That is adversarial.
  • We want a stronger commuter program to cut down on the number of single occupancy vehicles so our neighborhood feels less like a car lot and more like a residential area. That is adversarial.
  • We want Providence to provide a place for smokers so we don’t have to see patients or staff outside in all kinds of weather in various stages of undress loitering along the sidewalk while they smoke. We don’t want to empty the cigarette butts from our planters or sweep the sidewalks in front of our homes. We don’t want to smell the smoke of the hospital and clinic employees who stand in front of our homes because it’s a  less hostile environment than the main streets in front of the hospital. Apparently, neighbor requests are adversarial.
  • We’d like to know that our children can safely cross all of the streets in our neighborhood to get to and from Laurelhurst Elementary. Wanting safe streets is deemed as adversarial.
  • We want Providence to share. We want them to share our space, our streets, our parking spaces, our gardens, our open spaces, and to benefit from our amazing neighborhood that is practically a park in which their patients and families are seen walking on a regular basis as they deal with the illness of loved ones. We welcome them. And, we want Providence to take some of the responsibility of the burden the hospital brings to a non-commercial neighborhood. We have ideas of how they could do that. But, rather than listen to us or indulge us and stripe a few crosswalks for a pittance of $$, Providence has met neighbors with a highly paid land use attorney who seems to speak for them as of late. And, neighbors are the ones who are adversarial.

When I heard about the comments at the neighborhood association meeting, I just shook my head. I’m disgusted with the whole land use process. I want Providence to get what they need to have a world-class facility and provide the best medical care. At present, when I am sick, that is where I go. But, they could be a good neighbor and they are not. When the chips are down, they are the ones being adversarial and laying blame on the neighbors. They are smart enough to realize how to play the system and how to wait and outwait the neighbors. Neighbors are busy living lives and don’t have corporate dollars funding every meeting they attend. Thus, issues get dropped. Time goes by. Providence wins by default.

I had to let it all go. I have ill family members to tend to and that has consumed all my spare time.

Then, one of my neighbors sent me this link to a recent article in Willamette Week.

Very Healthy Paychecks

Yikes! Greg Van Pelt is GONE….gone from the Providence Payrolls. He sure took a bundle with him when he went. So much for asking for street crossings to be striped and marked.

But Van Pelt’s own swelling paycheck topped $4.2 million, according to Providence’s 2011 tax return, the most recent on record. That’s triple what his predecessor took home two years ago.

For all the crying about losing revenue in the current system. For all the arguing that they can’t be forced to put in pedestrians crossings, or set a building back a bit from the street, or keep an aquatics center open, the CEO is rewarded with megabucks.

Who is adversarial? Indeed.

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Time Magazine . . . and jaw-dropping pay for non-profit hospital CEOs

In case you missed it, Time Magazine took on the issue of CEO pay in a time of struggling healthcare coverage and sky-high bankruptcies due to inadequate healthcare coverage.

Take a look here for the full article.

One of our neighbors alerted me to this article and of course, had concerns about Providence Hospital, our near neighbor. I agree with his concerns. Decisions are made right here in Laurelhurst and North Tabor that will further erode our quality of life.

IMG_2867To add insult to injury, at a recent North Tabor Neighborhood Association meeting, the efforts of the neighbors to advocate for maintaining a high quality of life in our largely residential neighborhood were referred to by Providence’s representatives as ADVERSARIAL.

To that, I say WHAT?

Neighbors are willing to work with Providence AND we want to hold Providence Hospital and Providence Corporation responsible for the side-effects of their actions. Just as a medication has side-effects and you taper it back until the dosage is the right amount to not harm the patient OR you compensate and provide other treatment to make up for the medication’s effects.

Providence could eliminate the side-effects of rampant growth by installing crosswalks when a new building goes up. It could stripe or signal intersections for pedestrians. It could add bike lanes or widened sidewalks. It could ramp up a more aggressive employee carpool program. 

There are many things that Providence can do to make themselves look more favorable to the neighborhood and to the city administration. Nowhere among those is calling neighbors adversarial or paying CEOs exorbitant amounts of money.

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Nonprofit hospitals in Oregon are increasingly pushing to take newly acquired property off public tax rolls, and assessors in cash-strapped counties are pushing back.

Nationwide, hospitals are swallowing private practices, hiring their practitioners, absorbing their patients, and buying or leasing buildings and equipment.

Counties have long granted charitable tax exemptions to nonprofit hospitals in exchange for their care for the poor. But health reform’s coordinated care model along with changes to Medicare are driving mergers between hospitals and private practices to an all-time high.

In Oregon, county assessors are fighting the trend. Douglas County recently denied Roseburg’s Mercy Medical Center’s request to extend its exemption to four properties worth $18 million. Hood River and Josephine counties, currently gathering information, may follow suit on similar requests, assessors there say.

Oregon’s county assessors challenge hospital acquisitions’ new tax breaks, murky law

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News Flash: Protest Rally at the Providence Bridge Pedal Health & Wellness Expo

This from the Facebook page, Save Providence Therapy Pool.

Come out this sunday for a protest rally at Providence Health and Wellness Expo, help highlight the hypocrisy of Providence’s move to promote health for some while taking it away from others!

Sunday, Aug. 12
9 a.m. to 1 p.m.


directions http://www.portlandtimbers.com/stadium-renovation

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Protest over Providence Pool closure caught the eye of KOIN6

Why is Providence closing the warm-water therapy pool?

We keep hearing that the pool will close at the end of August 2012. How can that be true? Why would it close then? Construction on remodeling the Professional Plaza, the building that houses the pool, is at least two years away and maybe more. At least that’s what we have been told in community meetings by the CEO of the hospital.

Watch this video from KOIN 6 that captures the protest that users of the therapy pool staged on Saturday, August 4, at 10:30 in the afternoon. There would have been even more folks there but many of them were unable to tolerate the heat. Thank you to KOIN 6 for posting the video footage on their website!

KOIN 6 coverage of Pool Closure Protest 

Could they be closing the pool at the end of this month to save money? According to Dr. Bruce Becker, MD, director of the National Aquatics and Sports Medicine Institute, a pool needs 1,100 users to pay for itself. The Providence Therapy Pool has 2,000 monthly users. Is this just a rumor and the pool will continue to operate? Are we being threatened so we will concede on some other topic we don’t even realize will affect our lives in even more significant ways?

Is the health department pressuring Providence to upgrade facilities? If not, what is the rush to change the facilities? Even if Providence upgraded the facilities to meet ADA requirements it would not make sense to do anything until construction on the larger building remodel begins. There is more than enough time to put out a request for donations to pay for the upgrade of the pool showers and locker rooms. This is exactly the kind of project donors love.

This leads us to ask again, why is this program the one being chopped? Could this have anything to do with the fact that a large percentage of the users are uninsured or underinsured? Why is Providence not continuing this program that benefits so many who have been injured and are no longer able to work or who have no other means at their disposal to get the amenities a pool like this provides. They are not individuals who can access an expensive gym for the jacuzzi or pay for regular massages. They maintain their day-to-day functioning because they use the warm water therapy this pool provides.  Ironically, the group of people who uses the therapy pool are the very folks that Providence promises to help. And, it’s likely to be you and me, someday. This is the type of preventive medicine that needs to be accessible for all and who will do that for the community, if not the hospital?

Providence is complaining about spending 1.2 million dollars to upgrade the facilities, sometimes the repairs are quoted as 1.5 million dollars. 1.5 million is not much more than the hundreds of thousands of dollars Providence spends on attorney Michael Robinson’s legal counsel as he escorts them in their every move with neighbors and the City of Portland. Another comparison is that 1.5 million dollars is the cost of building 60 parking spaces. And for sure, with all those day surgery patients, more parking spaces will be needed.

Another interesting question is, how much would it cost to build a pool like this in today’s economy? A pool of this nature is no small undertaking and the chances of getting another one like this in Portland are very, very slim. We don’t understand why Providence doesn’t use this pool as a publicity tool and bring more users and make the pool support itself even more clearly. With healthcare heading in the direction of self-directed and preventive types of models, the warm-water therapy pool is EXACTLY the kind of treatment many individuals need.

Finally, how does eliminating the pool fit with the new mission? You can read the details of the new mission here…….

Below are a couple of items that jumped out at us from the mission Providence posted this last week or so. We didn’t think this represented how they treat their neighbors. We don’t mean Portlanders in general, we mean residents of North Tabor, Laurelhurst, Rose City Park, and Hollywood.

  • We reach out to people in need and give comfort as Jesus did. We nurture the spiritual, physical and emotional well-being of one another and those we serve. We embrace those who are suffering. (one really huge way to show this is your mission is to keep the pool operating)
  • We believe everyone has a right to the basic goods of the earth. We strive to remove the causes of oppression. We join with others to work for the common good and to advocate for social justice. (the social justice piece here is that the folks who use the pool don’t have the means to have a hot tub in the back yard or a jacuzzi tub in the bath.)
  • Much will be expected of those who are entrusted with much.   

Neighbors . . . Providence has much. And while they will be impacted by the cuts to Medicare and Medicaid, they are still and will remain a profitable company. It is easy to confuse non-profit status with not being profitable and we think Providence is using that imagery as they fundraise and make decisions about what to cut or not cut. But, if you go back to our post about the revenue Providence posted with the IRS for the last few years, you will find an organization that can easily absorb the price of a few locker room upgrades.

Providence, we expect much because you are entrusted with much.

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Alert: Providence Therapy Pool users plan a demonstration

This announcement was posted on the Facebook page for Save Providence Therapy Pool:

all you portland people, come out this saturday, aug. 4th at 130 pm to show your support for the save providence therapy pool. rally will be held on the sidewalk of Glisan ave at about 45th ave. bring your signs, spirit and become the change you want to see in the world!

I think they mean 52nd Ave, which is right outside the pool.

Join me, I’ll be there with my video running so we can get something up on YouTube. I’m not an organizer of this effort, but I support them completely in preserving something that we may all be needing in the future. A swimming pool is not something that gets built every day, or every year, or every decade.

Hope to see you there!

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Providence and it’s Neighbors: What Has Changed?

One of the most common questions neighbors have asked me over the last 6 months has been, “What has changed at Providence. Why does it feel like Providence cares less and less about the good of the community?”

That got me to thinking about when things began to change and when Providence adopted a new tone and a new way of relating to the neighborhood in which they live.

To be fair, there has been conflict between Providence and the neighbors for decades. For decades, neighbors have stood up and gone on record as opposed to development of Providence especially when that development has left the neighborhood with less than community-oriented spaces. The bottom line is this: the same organizations that carry a mission of aiding the sick and suffering also cause conflict within the neighborhoods where they do business.

However, despite those obvious conflicts, the best hospitals find ways to embrace what the neighbors need and to incorporate neighbor concerns into their development goals. We’ve highlighted Seattle Children’s as a case in point. They used to have conflict with their neighbors, much like Providence has with its neighbors because they didn’t take the residential nature of their surroundings to heart. They were expanding and traffic was causing problems and parking was a problem and tensions were high. They got smart and changed their tune, they reduced the number of commuters, and they now build pedestrian infrastructures all around their campus as a way to give back to the neighbors in exchange for the inconvenience of having a hospital in their midst.

It’s unlikely Seattle Children’s made this change in direction without some external pressure. But, it seems they’ve embraced the change whole-heartedly, in fact it’s now a marketing coup for them. At a time when all large corporations are pressured to reduce vehicular trips, Seattle Children’s can relax a bit, they are under 38% single occupancy rate. That’s an incredible feat and they should brag about it. We wish our neighborhood hospital was able to brag about such an amazing accomplishment.

But I digress.

What has changed at Providence? 

For one thing, in 2009, the Vatican turned the power and control of the hospitals in Oregon away from the Sisters of Providence Ministry and into the hands of the Providence Ministries, which is legally a Public Juridic Person. This from the 2011 annual statement of Providence Corporation:

The Provincial Superior, Provincial Council, and Provincial Treasurer of the Sisters of Providence – Mother Joseph Province historically controlled certain aspects of the various corporations comprising Providence Health & Services (the Health System), through certain reserved rights. Effective January 1, 2010, essentially all of the sponsorship of the Health System was transferred to the new Public Juridic Person, Providence Ministries, which was approved by the Vatican on February 2, 2009. The reserved rights, held by the Provincial Superior, Provincial Council, and Provincial Treasurer of the Sisters of Providence Mother Joseph Province, were transferred through the change in sponsorship to Providence Ministries.

Sister Bernardo and Mary Jane Groce, circa 1942

It seems Catholic hospitals have been less nimble in the competitive hospital world. As secular hospitals have entered into joint ventures with them, views on controversial issues have ended key negotiations. You can read an excellent description of what that means here . . . 

The biggest change at Providence? The nuns are gone and there’s a new order in charge.

We can tell.

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