On February 10, 2022, Labcorp announced it had entered a “strategic collaboration” with hospital giant Ascension Health. The agreement stipulated that Labcorp would “manage Ascension’s hospital-based laboratories in 10 states and purchase select assets of the health system’s outreach laboratory business.”

Ascension St. John Hospital workers [Photo by Ascension]

Although the “select assets” have not been disclosed, for phlebotomists, technicians and other lab workers at Ascension facilities in Alabama, Florida, Kansas, Maryland, Michigan, New York, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas and Wisconsin, the deal means they are being terminated as full-time hospital employees and must reapply for their jobs with Labcorp.

Ascension Health is the third largest health care network in the US with 143 hospitals and 2,600 medical facilities in 19 states and the District of Columbia. Like the other large hospital systems in the US, the St. Louis-based Ascension Health is the product of the consolidation of the health care industry over the past two decades.

In 2018, St. John Providence Health System, which operated four hospitals and 125 medical facilities in the Detroit Metropolitan area, was acquired by Ascension Health and renamed Ascension Michigan. Since that time, Ascension Michigan has acquired another ten hospitals in the state.

At each step along the path of expansion, Ascension Health has cut costs at the expense of employees and patients alike. The health care conglomerate with an annual revenue in 2021 of more than $20 billion, has closed facilities and laid off thousands of employees in a single-minded drive to improve financial performance and increase the compensation of its executive staff.

While Ascension Health is operated as a “not-for-profit” entity, the health care system owns a venture capital fund with over $15 billion in assets under management. The CEO of Ascension Health and Chairman of the Board of Ascension Capital, Anthony R. Tersigni, was the second-highest-paid nonprofit health care executive in the US in 2021, with an annual salary of $13,655,282.

Even though Ascension Health received $1.8 billion in government funds under the federal coronavirus CARES Act grants, the management of the organization is continuing with its cost-cutting measures including the termination of full-time employees and their replacement with contract workers.

A veteran lab worker spoke to the World Socialist Web Site about the contracting out of jobs at Ascension St. John Hospital in Detroit.  

“Ascension is going to replace all our jobs with contractors. All the work associated with the lab done by techs and phlebotomists is being moved to a different facility in Troy and will be run by Labcorp. We have been told we are no longer Ascension St. John employees.