Contracted ED providers at Ascension St. John strike

At least a dozen physicians and physician assistants who work in the emergency department at Ascension St. John in Detroit began a 24-hour strike on the afternoon of April 18, according to The Detroit News. The contracted clinicians are employed by TeamHealth, a private equity-owned hospital staffing company. 

Earlier this month, the Greater Detroit Association of Emergency Physicians, the union representing the contracted clinicians, had voted to strike. Union members allege the staffing company has reduced staff to cut costs, leading to significant understaffing and 17-hour emergency department wait times. The company began managing ED staffing at the hospital in 2015. 

A spokesperson for TeamHealth told The Detroit News the median "door to doctor" time in the ED at Ascension St. John's fell from 23 minutes in 2023 to 15 minutes in 2024 and that the department is fully staffed. 

Negotiations on terms for a first contract between the union and TeamHealth have stalled for months. A spokesperson for St. Louis-based Ascension previously told Becker's the ED would remain fully operational during the strike, citing a "comprehensive contingency plan" with the staffing company.

"TeamHealth's top priorities are delivering high-quality patient care and supporting our frontline clinicians, as they care for our communities 24 hours a day, 365 days a year," the company said in a statement to The Detroit News. "TeamHealth has provided clinicians with support and resources for over 40 years, even in the face of material reimbursement pressure from private insurers and Medicare. We have negotiated in good faith with the union, and any statement to the contrary is false. We invite the union's leadership to return to the bargaining table and secure a resolution on reasonable and sustainable terms."

A Senate committee recently launched a probe into private equity's role in ED staffing across the country. 

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