MIAMI – The Jackson Health System is considering outsourcing some of its positions in the emergency room, which includes doctors and nurses who conduct forensic exams of sex crimes victims in its rape treatment center.
Miami-Dade Police Detective Nitza Dominguez works in the sex crimes unit, and said the first step in her investigative process when it comes to adult victims is the Roxcy Bolton Rape Treatment Center at Jackson Memorial Hospital.
"Just being able to help your victim is amazing... They play a big part in our cases -- that's how we are able to solve many unknown cases if they collect DNA, even providing that emotional support for our victims," said Dominguez.
On the treatment center's website, it is described as being the only center of its kind in Miami-Dade County. Dominguez said that's because not only do rape victims go there for counseling, but the center also conducts forensic exams -- collecting the critical evidence she needs to build a successful case.
"Basically, they keep track of who had control and nobody has tampered with that evidence," said Dominguez. "It's important that that evidence is not tampered with and that it gets to the lab immediately... once they collect the evidence it is then turned over us -- we have chain of custody proper receipt and we then take that to our crime lab."
Because of the financial problems of the hospital system, CEO Carlos Migoya explained in a memo that they are looking to outsource some positions to a private company, including doctors and nurses in the Rape Treatment Center.
"I hesitate about it because we have such a long-standing relationship," said Dominguez. "They know what we are looking for when we are conducting our investigations and they go out and testify for these cases for us."
SEIU Local 1991 President Martha Baker, who heads the union which represents doctors Jackson Health System employs, opposes the idea.
"Their body becomes a crime scene the evidence they procure is so important," Baker told Local 10's Christina Vazquez over the phone. "And the evidence needs to be gathered very carefully and with a great deal with experience. I don't want to see a rape victim is now seen as a profit making entity by a for-profit company."
"There is no way that we would ever do anything that would jeopardize the care our patients receive or police and prosecutors ability to go after these crimes they are absolutely core parts of our public mission," said Jackson Health System Spokesman Matt Pinzur.
Pinzur said contract negotiations could always include a requirement for training if the idea gets that far.
"I think the biggest misconception is the notion that Jackson has already made a decision to go with contractors on any of this," said Pinzur.
Pinzur added that the proposals aren't just for private companies -- a university could also submit a bid.
"It is really important to understand that some of the key staff with in the Rape Treatment Center, like victim advocates and social workers, those are Jackson employees, those will stay Jackson employees, they are going to report to Jackson employees, nothing is going to change in those key personnel," explained Pinzur. "What may change is that we are investigating whether it makes sense to have the physicians and advanced nurse practitioners who are in the emergency room be people who are operated by an outside vendor. We haven't made that decision yet, we can't make that decision until we see what the opportunities are out there."
Pinzur also mentioned how Broward County has been under this type of arrangement for years.
Local 10 checked with Broward Health and a spokeswoman confirmed that, for several years, they have outsourced their physicians with a private company, but not the nurses. Their emergency room doctors are employees of Phoenix Physicians while Broward Health employs the nurses.