In an earlier investigation, Eyewitness News reported on two separate accidents involving drivers who fell asleep behind the wheel of a SeniorCare Ambulance, causing the death of one patient and serious injury to a pedestrian. Now, we’ve uncovered a third accident involving the huge Bronx-based company and new video showing the EMT driver dozing off, with deadly results. One early morning in 2010, a SeniorCare Ambulance driver was transporting Perla Pietrafesa to a Long Island nursing home, with her husband Richard also riding in the back of the ambulance. It was their last time together. New DashCam video obtained by the Eyewitness News Investigators shows the SeniorCare driver falling asleep behind the wheel before slamming into a tree. The impact killed Richard. … The Department of Motor Vehicles investigation concluded that the driver had fallen asleep because she had been awake more than 20 hours after agreeing to work back-to-back shifts. But as our investigation uncovered, SeniorCare EMT drivers continued to fall asleep with devastating results. In 2012, a SeniorCare driver appeared to nod off, striking several parked cars and a woman who was nearly killed. … Then, earlier this year, a SeniorCare Ambulance ran off the road and struck a utility pole, killing Janet Hickey, a patient in the back of the ambulance. Sources tell Eyewitness News that the teenage ambulance driver fell asleep behind the wheel. SeniorCare insists the driver was fully qualified, met the company’s rest rules and had cleared all drug tests after the accident.
Westchester Medical Center is seeking a new contractor to provide mental health care just three years after outsourcing the task to a Pennsylvania company. The move leaves the future of nearly 200 mental health workers uncertain. … Liberty did not respond to requests for comment but, in a notice filed with the state Department of Labor, it has warned all 199 of its workers that they will be laid off by Nov. 30. The company cited the expected end of its contract to provide staff for Westchester’s Behavioral Health Center as the cause. … The medical center’s 2012 decision to outsource care at the Behavioral Health Center meant the loss of 150 jobs held by members of the Civil Service Employees Association. The employees included psychiatric social workers, mental-health aides, therapists and clerks.
Westchester Medical Center plans 150 layoffs, private takeover of Behavioral Health Center
Source: Theresa Juva-Brown, LoHud.com, January 6, 2012
It’s a new year and a new round of layoffs at Westchester Medical Center.
Just weeks after slashing 250 positions across the hospital, the embattled medical center announced Thursday that up to more than half the staff at the Behavioral Health Center could lose their jobs as an outside company takes over direct patient care and treatment….Medical center administrators project to save $4 million a year by partnering with Liberty Healthcare, a Pennsylvania-based health-care delivery company. The medical center will pay Liberty $8.8 million a year under the three-year agreement.
The county’s 10-year-old paving machine has been knocked out of service in recent weeks by mechanical problems, issues that arose during the paving of Hadley Road in Stony Creek and will require repairs to weeks-old pavement. A new replacement machine costs at least $300,000. … Warren County Public Works Superintendent Jeff Tennyson said privatizing the paving operation was explored several years ago, and it was determined it would not save money but would cost 20 percent more when all the labor and oversight was factored in. “It would definitely be more expensive,” he said. Tennyson said the crew knew that the paver was having mechanical trouble on Hadley Road, but with loads of hot blacktop waiting in trucks at the job site, the crew decided it had to be put down instead of wasted. Problems with the paving machine have accounted for most of the quality issues, he said. The county DPW is doing about $2 million in paving projects on county roads this year, most of it funded by state highway aid.
The town of Greenville may have at last found the answer to the dilemma of finding full-time emergency medical services at the most affordable price. Greenville has received an offer from Durham Ambulance Inc. to cover Greenville for an estimated $175,000 per year. … According to a report compiled by the Center for Governmental Research and provided by the countywide ambulance task force, the Greenville Rescue Squad in 2013 responded to 54 percent of its 364 calls. Hence, the need for full-time coverage within the town seems necessary to both residents and the town board, town officials said. However, the cost of the paid service has raised concerns with the town board that taxpayers will not be able to afford the service and that the squad’s low call volume will prove unsustainable.
Vera determined that the program did not lead to reductions in recidivism for participants. The change in recidivism for the eligible 16- to 18-year-olds, adjusted for external factors, was not statistically significant when compared to the matched historical comparison group. Furthermore, the 19-year-olds and the study group (16- to 18-year-olds) displayed similar trends in rates of recidivism over time, indicating that any shifts were the result of factors other than the ABLE program. The program did not reduce recidivism and therefore did not meet the pre-defined threshold of success of a 10 percent reduction in recidivism bed days.
Are Governments ‘Paying for Failure’ With Social Impact Bonds?
Source: Liz Farmer, Governing, August 2015
Unpredictable as they are, programs like the one at Rikers are not going away. In fact, these attempts to link altruistic policy goals with the pursuit of private profit have been gaining steam as the latest promising innovation in public finance. The mere announcement of the Rikers project back in 2012 was a catalyst for action in dozens of other jurisdictions. Cash-strapped governments quickly became sold on the concept that they can use private money from investors for preventive social programs — money the government will have to pay back only if the programs produce the desired measurable outcomes. In 2013 alone, 28 state and local governments applied to the Rockefeller Foundation and Harvard’s Social Impact Bond Technical Assistance Lab to receive help in developing such programs.
What We Learned from the Failure of the Rikers Island Social Impact Bond
Source: Donald Cohen AND Jennifer Zelnick, NonProfit Quarterly, August 7, 2015
…That said, there are certain lessons we can take from this failed experiment:
- When SIBs fail, social problems persist: Taxpayers avoided paying some costs for the program, but the underlying problems that contribute to recidivism remain.
- The scope of SIBs is limited by the demand for short-term results: Most social problems are complex and require comprehensive programs and policies that stay the course. A bias toward programs that produce quick, measurable results narrows the public dialogue and waters down findings.
- SIBs divert investments that could be used in other ways: Philanthropy plays an important role in funding social interventions. In light of the failure of this first-in-the-nation SIB-funded intervention, philanthropic organizations may be asked to bear more of the risk to keep SIBs attractive to investors. A 2013 report by MDRC notes that it “may be necessary for benevolent funders to step in to ‘smooth the curve’ for traditional investors.” Not only does this undermine a key claim of SIBs, that they shift responsibility to the private sector alone, but it suggests that philanthropic dollars might be diverted from directly funding other innovative programs, shouldering risk for private investors instead.
Wall Street not giving up on U.S. social impact bonds
Source: Jessica Toonkel, Reuters, July 28, 2015
Last month, the program’s third-party monitor, the nonprofit Vera Institute, announced the initiative, had failed to hit its goal to cut repeat offenses by 10 percent. As agreed at the outset if the program did not reach its goal, its architects including the New York City’s Mayor’s Office, Bloomberg Philanthropies, and Goldman announced that the program, which was originally scheduled to run for four years, would shut down in August. Goldman lost $1.2 million and Bloomberg Philanthropies – a partner in the project – lost $6 million, which would have been recouped had the program met its goals. Still, the idea of social impact bonds, also called pay for performance contracts, has appeal for those who continue to participate in and seek deals in that space, officials at the firms told Reuters. … Goldman expects to receive initial results from its second social impact bond, a $4.6 million program launched in 2013 in Utah aimed at helping children from low-income families in the next few weeks. Additionally, the firm has helped fund two other programs – a $27 million initiative in Massachusetts intended to keep juveniles who have left jail from returning and a $16.9 million program in Chicago designed to help low-income families prepare their children for kindergarten.
…the U.S. Department of Urban Housing and Development is including White Plains Housing Authority properties in its plan to privatize up to 185,000 public housing units nationwide, a move that concerns CSEA members, including those employed by the White Plains Housing Authority. … Plans were already underway before expansion of the federal program for a private developer to build new mixed-use housing downtown that would replace the aging Winbrook public housing. … Long and CSEA activists are regularly attending authority board meetings and have reached out to authority residents to inform them about HUD’s Rural Assistance Demonstration program and plans for authority properties. The program is expected to fully privatize White Plains public housing. …
… After receiving an expensive quote of $200,000 from a private contractor for a relatiely small job, it became clear to him that outsourcing the work may not be the answer. CSEA member Sam Mattina and co-worker Vince Iacovitti, electricians at Niagara State Park, were asked their thoughts. They agreed that keeping the project in-house or “contracting in” seemed more logical. How to best handle additional work and its necessary training while still maintaining the park was the challenge but CSEA members got the job done, saving the state an estimated $133,000, plus yet-to-be realized energy costs. …
Across the state, CSEA members are showing they are a valuable resource when their employers are looking to make capital improvements to infrastructure and buildings. In the Town of Brookhaven, skilled members in the town’s Blue Collar Unit recently worked to rebuild the town’s piers, which were damaged by the harsh winter. … The town contracted out some of the work due to the scope of the project, but also used town workers to help save money. Gregory estimated the town saved $60,000 by contracting in most of the work, including the crane operator to lift, move and set the pilings. … Walsh said CSEA members working for the town include licensed electricians and plumbers, carpenters and a dock builder. Their skills can save the town hundreds of thousands of dollars in new projects and maintenance compared to private contractors.
Patients and unions won a major health care victory when the state Health Dept. board announced May 21 that it withdrew a for-profit company’s application to take over four chronic dialysis clinics in public hospitals. The decision caps a two-year campaign against Big Apple Dialysis by DC 37, the New York State Nurses Association, the Doctors Council and a coalition of health- care advocates and patients. Coalition members cited the company’s poor performance record and opposed privatizing chronic dialysis care. Big Apple’s contract to operate clinics has been cancelled at Kings County, Harlem, Lincoln, and Metropolitan hospitals.
Under scrutiny, city pulls the plug on for-profit dialysis deal
Source: Jonathan LaMantia, Crain’s New York Business, May 21, 2015
After continued opposition from several City Council members and labor unions, the New York City Health and Hospitals Corp. said Thursday it is terminating a deal to sell four of its kidney-treatment programs to for-profit operator Big Apple Dialysis. ….. Although the proposed sale was a money-saving measure proposed in 2013 by Dr. Raju’s predecessor, it swept him up into a political firestorm fanned by city politicians and unions who oppose the privatization of health care services. Those objections were based mostly on assertions of Big Apple’s inferior quality of care. But behind the scenes, another issue arose that created a politically difficult situation for HHC. In May, the owners of Big Apple Dialysis, Dr. Jodumutt Bhat and Dr. Nirmal Mattoo, agreed to pay $1 million to settle civil fraud charges in a whistle-blower case.
Unions gear up for another round with Big Apple Dialysis
Source: Dan Goldberg, Capital New York, February 10, 2015
Unions representing nurses, physicians and other health care workers are preparing for another fight with Big Apple Dialysis, the for-profit company that is trying to take over dialysis services at four New York City public hospitals. A subcommittee of the state’s Public Health and Health Planning Council declined to recommend the takeover last month after the New York State Nurses Association, Doctors Council SEIU and District Council 37 protested the safety and quality record of Atlantic Health, the parent company of Big Apple.
The union has reached a major agreement with the city that calls for insourcing computer work. The agreement should help the city save millions of dollars by reining in the use of excessively paid information technology consultants. … One of his accomplishments was to help expose vast corruption and waste at the CityTime automated payroll system. CityTime was marred by years of delays and more than $700 million in cost overruns before a dozen consultants were convicted on graft charges. … The city stands to save an estimated $100 million converting hundreds of consultant positions into union jobs. Today, the city spends $13 billion dollars a year on outsourcing. Computer work eats up a big portion of the procurement budget, and the city historically has had trouble monitoring information technology projects. Too often, the city is stuck with paying consultants expensive maintenance fees even after projects are completed because the in-house staff isn’t trained to do the work. The deal between the city and the union includes an oversight committee and calls for consultants to make “knowledge transfers” before finishing their jobs. Under the agreement, the city will set up insource pools of highly-trained city computer workers, who will be assigned to short-term projects throughout the city. The work of the teams – dubbed “flying squadrons” by Garrido – will include upgrading, troubleshooting and installing new programs, all previously done by consultants paid as much as $600 a day.
City officials to ‘insource’ IT consultants, expect to save $3.6M this year through plan
Source: Juan Gonzalez, New York Daily News, June 5, 2015
Mayor de Blasio is about to end the era of huge technology firms feeding off taxpayers with their legions of $500,000-a-year consultants camped at scores of city agencies for years. On May 15, de Blasio’s top aides completed months of secret talks with the city’s largest municipal union on a far-reaching new “IT Insourcing” agreement. …. City officials expect to save $3.6 million this year through the insourcing plan, but that figure could potentially rise to nearly $100 million over five years, according to the pact’s supporting documents. …. The new agreement calls for shifting several job categories typically handled by outside consultants — “Help Desk Support,” “Network Technician,” “Business Analyst,” and “Programmer” — to regular city positions. ….