Letters to the Editor

Hospital CEO produces doubts

Whenever there’s a story about a labor-management conflict the “truth” is often hidden in-between the lines. Perhaps this Whidbey General Hospital one is different. The only real issue is whether or not WGH paid federally required overtime correctly. The hospital, not the union, has control of this function. After reading Mr. Tomasino’s memo to employees distributed last week and the interviews in the Whidbey News-Times article some facts emerged. Mr. Tomasino states that he has been aware of the problem since late 2009 and that it was the hospital’s decision to not inform the employees of the situation. He doesn’t know the proportion of overpayment to underpayment and he isn’t aware of the magnitude of the problem.

In his employee memo and WNT interview he concentrates on grammar school play yard rhetoric as “disparaging nature of the communications” and his taking exception to union allegations. He assures us that after the new payroll system is functioning all these problems will be taken care of.

He says everything except I’m sorry we’ve made a big mistake and are taking care of it now. So where’s this new payroll system? Earlier accounts show that its “go live” date has been scheduled and canceled a number of times since July. What’s been the problem? In his employee memo Mr. Tomasino states, “As the Hospital Team began the implementation, we were optimistic that we would be able to expedite the process well under the industry standard for implementing a Time and Attendance system (12 to 18 months is typical). In hindsight, we should have realized that the complexity of implementation is the same as a large hospital.”

In other words they misjudged the work and time needed to have the system running. Why was the last “go live” canceled? Joe Vessey, CFO, said, “But difficulties, largely management training, have arisen and ultimately delayed the new system’s scheduled Dec. 19 launch date.” So according Mr. Tomasino and Mr. Vessey the delay in the payroll system’s installation is due to WGH administration’s decision making.

But none of that addresses the basic issue. Is WGH violating federal law and what is the extent of the incorrect payments? Has the hospital cheated employees out of pay or have they been squandering our public dollars in overpayments? Either one is embarrassingly incompetent. What a normal business the size of WGH would do is hire an auditing firm to assess the problem and make corrective recommendations. Even first year MBA students know this.

Why didn’t WGH take this route which would have settled this issue long ago? This issue should be settled on its own merit without waiting for the payroll system from the promised land. Mr. Tomasino has brought his judgment and competency into question with his decisions and actions. And here’s another question. The proposal for constructing a new wing may have merit but if Mr. Tomasino cannot competently guide the installation and activation of a payroll software program do you think he can be trusted with $50 million to build a new wing? Not out of my checkbook!

Thomas Saportes


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