|In 2019, Samuel Hazen, CEO of HCA Healthcare in Nashville, was paid $26.8 million in compensation ( don’t you just love the word “ compensation”? ). Until the pandemic hit things looked even better. Then HCA promptly cut the salaries of 11,000 corporate staff, and even Hazen “sacrificed,” donating $237,000 of his salary — less than 1 percent of his total pay — to a worker relief fund.
HCA nurses and other frontline workers, meanwhile, sacrificed a whole lot more. Two two lost their lives amid widespread staff complaints about a lack of adequate protective gear. Hazen’s HCA responded by denying any gear problems and threatening unionized nurses with layoffs if they didn’t give up scheduled pay increases and accept benefit cuts. The nurses didn’t cave. They demonstrated instead outside 15 HCA hospitals. Hazen’s reaction? HCA has started a new line of business – recruiting scab “replacement workers” to fill in should HCA nurses choose to strike.
It is stories like this that give American healthcare such a dreadful reputation. Meanwhile, there are thousands of decent doctors and nurses who went into the business to help the sick and the poor.