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SEIU Wants Grand Jury Probe of Miami's Jackson Health System

John Commins, for HealthLeaders Media, February 19, 2010

The union representing 5,000 nurses, doctors, and other healthcare workers at Jackson Health System in Miami has asked a state grand jury to investigate alleged mismanagement that union officials say has the public hospital on the brink of financial ruin.

"It's time we know the truth about what's going on with Jackson's finances," Martha Baker, RN, president of SEIU Local 1991, said in a media release. "We owe it to the patients we serve and to the taxpayers who are funding Jackson."

Baker requested the grand jury investigation on Thursday in a hand-delivered letter to Katherine Fernandez-Rundle, the Miami-Dade state attorney.

JHS President/CEO Eneida Roldan, MD, said the union's allegations "are without merit and inaccurate," and that any information about the health system's operations is already open and available in the public domain.

"This is not the time for finger pointing or to cast blame," Roldan said in a media release. "No one person or factor is responsible for Jackson's woes and focusing on blame will get us no closer to a solution. Instead, we must all work together to address Jackson's challenges and to ensure its survival for years to come."

Florida law allows state attorneys to initiate grand jury investigations of public agencies and the public officials who run them. Grand juries can then report findings and recommendations concerning mismanagement, misconduct, or misuse of public funds.

Fernandez Rundle confirmed in a media release that her office had received the request. She said such requests are not uncommon "when concerned citizens feel that parts of their government are functioning poorly."

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