By Teri G. Muse, BA
The Kaiser Permanente Baldwin Park Medical Center is the first US hospital to be designed and operated by labor and management groups cooperatively in a full partnership: the Kaiser Permanente National Labor-Management Partnership. This article gives some background about this important event.
A mere seven months after final approval was given for its formation, the Kaiser Permanente (KP) Baldwin Park Medical Center opened its doors on October 7, 1998. This event was a result of open-mindedness, commitment, and sheer hard work–major features of the cooperative relationship between the labor unions and management teams participating in the Kaiser Permanente National LaborManagement Partnership. No other KP facility to date–let alone any other medical facility in the United States–has opened in this way.
Designing a New Kind of Workplace
To completely design all of the Baldwin Park Medical Center’s operations within this brief, seven-month time frame while building a positive working relationship, a steering committee composed of labor and management leaders was established at Baldwin Park. The committee was charged with developing a partnership culture and a model of patient care for the hospital.
|To work collaboratively, management had to relinquish unilateral control over issues and information that typically fell solely under management purview. These issues included access to financial information, control over the interview and hiring processes, and selection of equipment and supplies. Conversely, union-affiliated employees had to trust that communication with the codirectors are integrated into the physician’s daily work schedule.|