HYANNIS, Mass., Aug. 23 /PRNewswire/ -- Cape Cod Healthcare and the largest healthcare union on the East Coast are pleased to announce a new alliance today that marks the very first labor-management partnership in the healthcare industry in Massachusetts. The partnership will focus strategically on the growing challenges facing the industry, including improving overall quality of care for patients, increasing state and federal funding sources, and recruiting, training, and retaining the most qualified workforce at Cape Cod Healthcare, Cape Cod's largest employer. Citing the need for united and comprehensive efforts as the healthcare industry faces critical hurdles such as staffing shortages in key positions, the expanding role of new technology in improving patient care, and a growing demand for services from an aging baby-boomer population -- Steven L. Abbott, President and CEO of Cape Cod Healthcare said, "Our vision is to be the health service provider of choice for all Cape Cod residents and visitors, as well as the employer of choice on Cape Cod. This landmark alliance will help us continue to meet the highest standards in health care delivery and service quality." Cape Cod Healthcare and 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East announced the terms of a new contract in March of this year that was unprecedented, both for its "interest-based" bargaining approach, and for the professional benefits and terms of the contract -- including fully paid health insurance coverage. The bargaining process began with a joint commitment to strengthening patient care through more collaborative efforts, which in turn led to the formation of the "Cape Cod Healthcare Alliance." In interest-based negotiations, both parties focus on shared interests and outcomes, and agree upon the criteria for proposed solutions. This is in contrast to traditional collective bargaining negotiations, in which each party sets separate goals and objectives. The bargaining committee met for over six months and was composed of administrative, professional and technical health care workers and Cape Cod Healthcare management. "It's about the future of our patients here and our professional futures. It only makes sense that we make these decisions together," said Maria Juliani, a physical therapist at Cape Cod Hospital and an elected representative of the 10-member alliance committee composed of health care workers and hospital management. "What they've done on the Cape is very rare, but it's a promising formula to improve the quality of patient care. In California, the strategic alliance between Kaiser and SEIU have led to dramatic improvements in patient outcomes," said Tom Kochan, a professor and co-director of MIT's Center for Work and Employment Research at the Sloan School of Management. Shared goals of the Cape Cod Healthcare Alliance include: * To increase continuity of care and patient satisfaction by creating an expanded joint-management training program, as well as tailored career counseling; * To address system-wide workforce needs and to create recruitment initiatives to meet those needs; * To create a process for workers to pursue professional opportunities within all Cape Cod Healthcare entities, allowing them to bring expertise and experience to new sites. "Through this partnership, our members have created even more opportunities to both improve the lives of patients and improve the lives of healthcare workers throughout the Cape. The possibilities are limitless to be more creative and effective in our approach to solving the tremendous challenges facing hospitals today," said Mike Fadel, Executive Vice President of 1199SEIU. There are over 2,000 1199SEIU members who work in professional and technical positions within the Cape Cod Healthcare system at Cape Cod Hospital, Cape Cod Human Services, Falmouth Hospital, and C-Lab, the largest clinical laboratory on Cape Cod. The specific goals and objectives of the Cape Cod Healthcare Alliance will be jointly determined through a series of meetings over the next six months, and health care workers will have a voice in operations -- from budgeting to staffing to marketing decisions. "This partnership was designed to develop an environment and a relationship built on principles of collaboration, inclusion and a mutual trust to make sure our patients get the best care on the Cape," said Michael Foley, Chief Negotiator, Cape Cod Healthcare. Cape Cod Healthcare is the leading provider of healthcare services for residents and visitors of Cape Cod. With more than 400 physicians and 4,000 employees, Cape Cod Healthcare has two-acute care hospitals, the largest home health services agency on the Cape (VNA), skilled nursing and rehabilitation facilities, an assisted living facility and numerous health programs. For more information, visit Cape Cod Healthcare's web site at http://www.capecodhealth.org. 1199SEIU (http://www.1199seiu.org) represents more than 275,000 members and retirees in New York, Maryland, the District of Columbia and Massachusetts. 1199SEIU's mission is to improve and expand quality, affordable patient care, to protect and improve the lives of our members and our families, and to work in solidarity with working people in our communities and around the world.
SOURCE 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East