Saturday, July 18, 2015

ALS Patient's Sad Situation at Vitas Hospice

Hospice facility to take breathing machine from ALS patient photo

Atlanta media reported contention between Vitas Hospice and ALS patient Hector Torres.  AJC's article offered:

An Atlanta man battling ALS is fighting a hospice care facility to keep machines he needs to live.  Hector Torres has to live his life hooked up to two machines that help keep him alive.  "I'm dying. I'm suffocating, because I can't breathe," Torres said. He suffers from ALS, a disease that affects nerve cells in his brain and spinal cord.

ALS patients face a certain outcome, death.  When the diaphragm weakens patients are unable to expel carbon dioxide in their lungs.

Torres told Channel 2's Tyisha Fernandes he needs two machines to breath, a ventilator and another to supply oxygen.
Vitas Hospice's medical team determined Torres needed assistance expelling carbon dioxide from his lungs and would benefit from prescribing oxygen.    

Vitas Hospice officials were letting him use the machines in his home, but now that the location is under new management the hospice is taking back one of the machines.

The machines were prescribed as part of Mr. Torres hospice treatment, provided by Vitas, likely through a contract arrangement.  New management should have nothing to do with giving Mr. Torres what he needs to treat his symptoms and keep him comfortable. The article gave this response from Vitas:

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Listening Means Suspending Judgment


I pondered your question about management not listening and offer the following:  For one to listen they must stop talking, verbally and non-verbally.  That includes suspending whatever agenda, perceptions, preconceived notions, desires, repulsions or judgements they may have.  Their aim should be to fully and completely understand the person.  Any notion of helping or problem solving should come after communication has been completed.

You also asked for "advice for hospice employees working for managers who say they believe in teamwork but act autocratically, who say they're open to input but never seek it, who hold it against employees finally fed up enough to take the risk to speak out."  I offer several observations for those who must find their way in such circumstances.

There are ways of managing that appreciate the depth and complexity of life, that honor whole people in the workplace, that focus on the most important things (which is not numbers or money), that foster teamwork, trust and achieving great things.  This cannot be done by control from above, whether it be edicts from senior executives, regional managers or local site leaders.  "Doing to" people may achieve the illusion of success on shallow measures.  This is as fleeting as the house built on sand.

"Doing with" is the only way to achieve success over time.  Your company and site leader are limited in their vision.  They obsess over measures that are not primary.  They are not able to suspend their talking to hear. 

People experiencing this form of management obtuseness and control are naturally frustrated.  Yet, this is an opportunity for growth.  I encourage you to observe that which is going on.  Try to observe the whole room, including your reactions as situations unfold.  What is being triggered in me?  Why do I have this reaction at this time?  If you can monitor and learn from your self-talk you can become a better listener. 

The challenge is for you to become a better listener.  What you learn from yourself and others will guide your future.

StrangeTony (from retirement)

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Anti-Teamwork: Management Doesn't Listen


Do you have any advice for hospice employees working for managers who say they believe in teamwork but act autocratically, who say they're open to input but never seek it, who hold it against employees finally fed up enough to take the risk to speak out? 

This is all the more jarring in hospice with its interdisciplinary team emphasis.  How can hospice be a team when management views us as a collection of individual parts that must be controlled, directed,, externally motivated, kept in the dark, even micromanaged?   

My company lets anything go management wise as long as census and admissions are fine.  They believe our Branch Manager is solely responsible for good volumes and positive budget performance, as opposed to the sixty seven non-management employees busting their backside to provide great service on a daily basis.

Should volumes drop our Branch Manager delegates blame to anyone but them.  Corporate nits suddenly start hovering around looking for who to pressure, reduce or eliminate.  They offer exhortations like "pick up the pace."

A wise physician's message to corporate types:  Take care of patients and employees and census will follow. Nobody's listening.

Anonymous (from Gentiva, a Kindred at Home company)

Friday, June 5, 2015

Kindred Registers 200,000 Shares for Directors


Swirl this around in your mint julep.  Kindred filed a stock registration with the SEC for 200,000 shares to be used in non-employee Board member compensation.  Kindred employees lack a stock purchase plan, something Gentiva employees once had as a benefit.  It's better together for Board members.  For employees, no evidence yet.

Anonymous (from Gentiva, rebranded Kindred at Home)

Monday, May 18, 2015

Retirement at Home


Thank you for your back porch update and reminiscing about your experiences with new corporate owners.  We're still learning what Kindred is about.  Unfortunately, communication seems no better than before.  My method of listening to quarterly earnings calls for executive strategy didn't work so well with Kindred.

Hospice was but a minor part of the conversation.  The language sounded something like, "hospice volumes are stabilizing, even making slight headway in Q1.  The company is positioning hospice for a return to sequential growth."

However Kindred's recent quarterly report had several interesting statements:

During the three months ended March 31, 2015, the Company recorded an asset impairment charge of $6.7 million related to previously acquired home health and hospice trade names after the decision in the first quarter of 2015 to rebrand to the Kindred at Home trade name.

Later on in the same document:

During the three months ended March 31, 2015, the Company recorded an asset impairment charge of $7 million related to previously acquired home health and hospice trade names after the decision in the first quarter of 2015 to rebrand to the Kindred at Home trade name. 

What's $300,000 between corporate friends?  This could be a typo or an accounting discrepancy.  With executive communications it's hard to know.  It's newsworthy to Gentiva sites who've had their assets impaired by past trade name changes, some multiple times.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Buyout Memories

Anonymous from Gentiva,

Retirement is great.  Every now and then a bad memory of a former Generic Hospice buyout invades my brain as I sit on back porch sipping mint juleps.  There are flashes of false promises, vacuous language, image obsessed people in suits and a widespread, shallow excitement over all the money the company would save or make under the new combination.  This dull energy, like excrement, urine and water, flows downhill.  Our site was to spend less and make more for the company.  Customer needs, service levels and employee concerns (heaven forbid) were not in the equation.

What did we get?  A ceaseless rotation of corporate "leaders" who were supposed to support our site.  They delivered handcuffs in the form of "no overtime" and other absurd corporate edicts  The amount of work to be done didn't matter.  We had staff doing the work of 2.5 full timers.  There was no concern of burnout for loyal, dedicated employees.  Our abusive branch manager was a hero for getting this level of productivity.  They were lionized in the company's eyes when they should have been vilified. 

After one buyout, the new company wanted to hear from employees.  Corporate sent a human resources person to gauge the pulse of our site under our horrific branch manager.  They heard from most people, directly in one-on-one sessions.  The line of people shared their individual stories of how this leader had dashed our site's historically low turnover and high employee morale, achieving soaring turnover and plummeting morale.  After processing this feedback Human Resources invited anyone who didn't like it to leave.

Six months later they administered an anonymous employee survey.  If they didn't care about our plight when informed directly by dozens of loyal, dedicated employees what difference would a survey make?  A few new employees penciled in their rankings on a variety of measures.  Most of the rest of us trashed it, just as the company had trashed our verbally shared concerns.

I scribbled comments on each question, ignoring the rankings.  I simply edited the survey based on my experience.  In my attempt to recreate a few of those I offer:
My colleagues support one another in spite of local and executive management.
My branch manager creates unnecessary conflict
My branch manager serially picks people for micromanagement and abuse
Human Resources aids our branch manager's abusive counseling 
My colleagues are chronically underpaid and not appreciated.
Senior management has never visited our site. 
Good luck with the survey.  Enjoy the honeymoon while it lasts.  When the union settles in Kindred's true face will be revealed. 


Saturday, April 18, 2015

Gentiva Wants to Hear Employees: Five Year Wait


President of Kindred at Home David Causby,, former Gentiva Chief Operating Officer, wants to hear from employees for the first time since Gentiva acquired Odyssey Hospice in 2010.  Causby announced Kindred at Home will conduct an employee survey.

I expect they will get an earful, given Gentiva's abusive management practices and years with no raises, interrupted by an occasional pittance of an increase. 

This survey will be the baseline for most former Odyssey Hospice employees.  How does one take five years of horrific management and distill it in one survey instrument?  That will be the challenge for many. 

There's also the question of how the survey fits within Causby's series of special bonus opportunities, one $500,000 and two $250,000 chances?  If the results are less than flattering what consequences await those who share their longstanding concerns?  Gentiva leaders are well known for retaliation, as evidenced by many comments on Generic Hospice and GlassDoor

Anyone raising concerns are labelled troublemakers, negative and are encouraged to leave, if not fired.  A survey is coming from a man whose history showed he couldn't care less about employees.  Kindred acquired a company with entrenched Human Abuse practices.  Will they dismantle this sick culture or reinforce it?  It will be interesting to see.

Anonymous (from Gentiva Hospice, now owned by Kindred)