Resident physicians and fellows from Elmhurst Hospital gathered for a rally Feb. 21 outside the hospital to call for equity among its workers and patients. The workers taking part in the rally also called for a fair contract that would benefit themselves and their patients.
The resident physicians were represented by the Committee of Interns and Residents (CIR), the largest house staff union in the country. Additionally, they were joined by local elected officials, including Council member Tiffany Cabán and State Senator Jessica Ramos. In addition to the local elected leaders, those that spoke at the rally included CIR President Dr. Lorenzo Antonio González, CIR Vice President Dr. Yariana Rodríguez Ortiz and several Elmhurst Hospital residents.
According to Dr. González, despite being Mount Sinai employees, the residents at Elmhurst Hospital earn less support compared to other Mount Sinai residents. Despite having a higher patient to staff ratio, Dr. Gonzalez said the Elmhurst residents are earning around $8,000 less than the Mount Sinai residents. Additionally, while Mount Sinai residents are provided with transportation home if they need it after completing their shifts, Elmhurst residents do not receive this benefit.
“Mount Sinai is a well-respected, well-known institution, whose name is synonymous with prestige, yet there is disparity” Dr. González said. “Elmhurst residents are not being treated with the same dignity and respect and equity as those who serve wealthier patient populations. This is unacceptable. After five months of stalled negotiations, Elmhurst residents are ready to show their power and unity. We are championing a fair and just contract. Mount Sinai must provide all house staff with what they need to be the best doctors for this community.”
“Across our hospitals, the expectations for us as physicians are the same: We must give the highest quality, compassionate care possible while ensuring that we receive the necessary training,” first-year pediatrics resident Dr. Alaa Mohamed said. “There’s no reason why Mount Sinai physicians at one institution should be paid less because they work in a different zip code.”
As a local of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), CIR represents more than 24,000 resident physicians and fellows. CIR’s members are dedicated to improving residency training and education, advancing patient care and expanding healthcare access for its communities.
“I stand in solidarity with CIR members’ fight for quality healthcare for all our neighbors, family and friends, regardless of their zip code,” Council Member Cabán said. “Dr. King called injustice in healthcare the most shocking and inhuman form of inequality. Nearly 60 years later, we have yet to win a distribution of healthcare services and resources that affirms the dignity of all. If there’s anything we should learn from the COVID pandemic, it’s that unequal healthcare means death and suffering. Thank goodness for these courageous CIR members standing up for life, health, and whole communities.”
For Ramos, this issue has a personal connection to her. In addition to being born at this hospital, several members of her family have sought care there over the years. She credited the dedication of the workers there as playing a big role in why these family members went to Elmhurst Hospital when they needed treatment.
“As a proud Elmhurst-born baby, I recognize the importance of investing in the needs of all residents and the communities that they serve,” Gutiérrez said. “The demands of the CIR members are not only reasonable but necessary to ensure that Elmhurst residents, interns and fellows as well as their patients receive the quality healthcare they deserve.”