Nurses vote no confidence in Hennepin Healthcare CEO

Members of the Minnesota Nurses Association have voted no confidence in the CEO of Minneapolis-based Hennepin Healthcare, according to CBS Minnesota.

The vote, referencing Jennifer DeCubellis, was announced Nov. 28 ahead of the Hennepin County Board of Commissioners meeting regarding the 2024 fiscal budget for Hennepin County Medical Center; that meeting took place Nov. 28 as well.

"Nurses and other healthcare workers are speaking ahead of the county board of commissioners meeting regarding the 2024 fiscal budget for Hennepin County Medical Center," the union wrote on its Facebook page. "Nurses will announce the results of their vote of no confidence in CEO Jennifer DeCubellis and encourage the county commissioners to stand with nurses and other healthcare workers at HCMC by working with Hennepin Healthcare to create a budget that retains healthcare workers and keeps workers safe in the hospital."

The nurses' union was joined in its announcement by members of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 2474 and the Hennepin County Association of Paramedics and EMTs. After the announcement, the board considered the health system's budget, but commissioners decided to delay a final vote until Dec. 12, according to the Star Tribune.

Nurses who voted no confidence allege that in the last four years, Ms. DeCubellis has received a 20% raise while workers will see their benefits significantly cut next year, according to CBS Minnesota. They also contend that Ms. Decubellis declined to use an entire $8 million appropriation approved by the county board as a stopgap for their health plans.

"It is unclear where nearly half of that funding is going," a Nov. 26 union release said. "Without direct intervention from the county board, there may still be a flight of healthcare workers due to the financial challenges this will cause."

Hennepin Healthcare shared a statement with Becker's saying that while an early iteration of the budget included proposed increases in the employee cost of healthcare coverage, additional funding from Hennepin County has been used to reduce the proposed increases and to fund tax-free health care accounts for employees. The system also said it will continue to offer competitive pay and pension plans.

Additionally, Hennepin Healthcare pointed to ongoing challenges it faces, including increased staffing costs, inflation and a lack of appropriate patient discharge options. 

"This has impacted the system's 2023 volume and financial performance and created a gap of $127 million that needed to be solved during the 2024 budgeting process," the health system said.

Hennepin Healthcare said the $1.49 billion budget approved by its board of directors "invests in adding patient-facing nurses and prioritizes safety and quality for nurses and all team members." It also invests in more security department positions and better technology, as well as safety and de-escalation training for workers.

Hennepin Healthcare has 7,000 employees total.

Editor's note: This story was updated at 4:23 p.m. CST on Nov. 28.

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