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San Diego Nurse Elected to Union’s Four-Member Leadership Council

For the first time in its 104-year history, the country’s largest nurses union has elected a San Diegan to a top leadership position.

The California Nurses Association/National Nurses Organizing Committee said May 17 that Geri Jenkins will join three other registered nurses on the group’s newly formed Council of Presidents, which will help steer the group’s lobbying and organization efforts. Jenkins has spent her 30-year career at the UC San Diego Medical Center, where she works in intensive care.

Deborah Burger of Santa Rosa, Zenei Triunfo Cortez of San Bruno and Malinda Markowitz of San Jose join her on the council.

The CNA/NNOC represents 70,000 nurses in California and an additional 5,000 in the other 49 states.

Jenkins, who will be 55 next month, has been an active union member for most of her career, including a stint on the board from 1999 to 2005. She’ll serve a four-year term on the council.

“I’m really happy to be involved at this level,” said Jenkins, who said she wants to help Southern California nurses make the same wages as their Northern California counterparts. Although Jenkins did not specify just how much more Northern California nurses make versus Southern California nurses, she said the difference was significant.

Even more important than wages, adequate work conditions involving nurse-to-patient ratios is a foremost concern of the group, Jenkins said.

Also on the CNA/NNOC agenda: lobbying for state and federal efforts for a universal health care plan.

“We are facing a human and political crisis of unimaginable proportions in the meltdown of our health care system,” Jenkins said, who is not only the first San Diegan to serve at the group’s helm, she is the first representative for Southern California.

Another notable first to come out of this year’s election: Cortez is the first Filipino to be named the leader of CNA/NNOC.

Burger previously served as the association’s president.

She said the Council of Presidents was created this year to make it easier for CNA/NNOC’s leadership to juggle running the union while also maintaining their nursing careers.

Jenkins said she will continue to work at UCSD part time for two reasons: One, working in the field gives her a better handle on the issues affecting nurses and two, she loves her job.

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A Healthy Purchase:

A North County staffing agency specializing in placing nurses and physicians announced a $17.3 million acquisition this month.

AMN Healthcare Services Inc., based in Carmel Valley, is acquiring Denver-based Rx Pro Health Inc. and Pharmacy Choice Inc. AMN made the announcement May 21.

The $17.3 million sticker includes an initial purchase payment and potential additional earn-out payments through 2009.

Rx Pro Health and Pharmacy Choice provide pharmacy staffing, technology tools and online educational services to hospital and retail pharmacies and pharmaceutical companies.

AMN, founded in 1985, provides traveling nurses and physicians, as well as other allied health care professionals, for its clients. It is the nation’s largest health care staffing service, according to its Web site.

“Rx Pro Health is an innovator and leader in the pharmacy staffing industry and its addition to the AMN organization fits perfectly into our strategy of continuing to offer the most comprehensive clinical staffing solutions to our clients,” said Susan Nowakowski, president and chief executive officer of AMN Healthcare.

Rx Pro Health will continue to operate under its own name and keep its Denver headquarters. Rx Pro Health Inc. operates under the brands of Rx Pro Health and Pharmacy Choice, among others.

AMN trades on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol AHS. Its stock closed at $22.01 on May 21, up 50 cents for the day. AMN’s revenues last year were $1 billion, with $289 million gross profit reported.

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Money Saver:

Pomerado Hospital in Poway celebrated its new five-story outpatient pavilion, 1,200-space parking garage and newly renovated central plant this month with a $26,000 gift from San Diego Gas & Electric Co.

The public hospital, governed by Palomar Pomerado Health, received the money May 17 in the form of a rebate check. Tenants of the new pavilion are expected to move in this year.

The check represents the number of kilowatts saved by the hospital, thanks to its decision to install energy-efficient mechanical system for heating and cooling.

Chip Fox, commercial new construction manager for SDG & E;, said Pomerado can expect a savings of $30,000 a year because of the new system, which, because of the nature of acute care hospitals, runs 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

He said Pomerado is just one of many businesses to take advantage of the rebate.

The new outpatient facility, garage and central plant renovation cost the hospital $28 million. Among other tenants, the pavilion will house doctor offices, clinic, medical spa and women’s health resource center.

The projects represent a larger effort to double the hospital’s size.

Work on another five-story building , to be used as a patient wing , along with another new parking garage is scheduled to begin this year.

Palomar Pomerado Health is also in the process of relocating its Escondido hospital, Palomar Medical Center. The current Palomar structure will be renovated into a specialized care center.

Work on the campuses will cost in excess of $1 billion combined, financed in part with a $496 million bond measure approved by voters three years ago.


Send health care news to Jessica Long at

jlong@sdbj.com

. She may also be reached at (858) 277-6359, ext. 3114.

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