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Cerberus draws ire of union, nurses

From the Globe’s health care blog.

The Massachusetts Nurses Association and its parent union staged a protest in New York Tuesday afternoon, near the headquarters of the Steward Health Care system parent company Cerberus. The demonstration was meant to draw attention to what the union says are profit-driven decisions that compromise patient care.

Union spokesman David Schildmeier said that the group had 108 people en route to the city from Greater Boston, and he expected about 150 more to show up there, including members of the national union and some Occupy Wall Street demonstrators.

He called Cerberus ‘‘a cutthroat Wall Street profit-making machine coming into the health care market.’’ The union supported the Cerberus purchase of many of the hospitals that now make up the for-profit Steward system, some of which were in danger of going belly up.


But the group has been unhappy with staffing changes and budget cuts at some hospitals since, Marc Larocque of the Taunton Daily Gazette reported:

‘‘Schildmeier said cuts that Steward has made at other hospitals include the firing of 13 nurses in a psychiatric care unit at Carney Hospital after a nonnursing employee assaulted a patient; and the firing of a nurse who was an active union organizer at Holy Family Hospital Methuen for a minor medical error (when she should have received a warning, Schildmeier said). Schildmeier said that at Carney Hospital the intensive care unit was slashed in half from 14 to six beds with 10 nursing layoffs since Steward took over.’’

The hospital system turned the tables, saying in a press release that Steward nurses are among the top 5 percent for compensation nationally, and the protest is an attempt at ‘‘using intimidation and baseless accusations’’ to further the union’s agenda in contract negotiations at the expense of patients.

‘‘They will stop at nothing to advance their national agenda even if it means denigrating the hospitals where they have spent their careers,’’ spokesman Chris Murphy said in the release. ‘‘This is about creating conflict, period.’’



Surgeon who allegedly slept in OR is disciplined

Dr. Loren J. Borud, a plastic surgeon, and Dr. Abdul Cader Asmal, an internist, resigned their medical licenses Wednesday, according to the Massachusetts Board of Registration in Medicine. Resignation is a disciplinary action.

The board had previously suspended Borud’s license after he allegedly performed two operations at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in June 2008 while impaired and appeared to fall asleep during a patient’s liposuction.

One of the patients, Michael K. Hicks of Quincy, eventually sued Borud, saying he suffered pain and complications after liposuction and repair of a scar on his chest.

Borud had been in treatment for alcohol or drug abuse since at least 2002. He is a 1990 graduate of Harvard Medical School and has been licensed in Massachusetts since 2000.

Board spokesman Russell Aims said he could not provide any further information on why Asmal resigned his license. Asmal is a 1963 graduate of the University of London Faculty of Medicine. He is board certified in internal medicine and has been licensed in Massachusetts since 1981.


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