October 28, 2013
By Neal Tepel
New York, NY, – Dr. Barry Liebowitz announced that he will step down as President of Doctors Council SEIU on December 31, 2013, the nation's oldest and largest union of attending physicians and dentists. His notable leadership of Doctors Council has spanned 33 years, one of the longest tenures of a union President in New York City, during which he helped grow the organization from a few hundred members in New York City to a national union for doctors and voice for patients.
The Doctors Council has grown from a union representing doctors working at Bellevue and Kings County Hospitals to 4,000 doctors now working in every HHC facility; the NYC Department of Health and other NYC agencies; the Cook County Health and Hospital Systems, Illinois; and health care facilities in Rockland County, Pennsylvania and New Jersey.
³Since I started my medical career, I have viewed healthcare as a right not a privilege. This philosophy has guided me from the days when I helped found the Los Angeles Free Clinic in the 1960s, which provided free care for the
underserved, to my tenure as president of the Doctors Council,² said Dr. Liebowitz. ³As doctors, we have to speak out to protect the patient services and ensure that quality patient care receives the funding it needs.²
Throughout his career, Dr. Liebowitz has been at the forefront of healthcare advocacy opposing hospital closures and consolidation in New York City; fighting to restore funding for school-based health programs; and engaging in efforts to boost health services in at-risk communities. When disaster and tragedy struck the people of Haiti in 2011, Doctors Council responded within a matter of hours by mobilizing members to travel to Haiti to provide vitally needed medical care.
As doctors are increasingly holding salaried positions in hospitals and HMOs, Dr. Liebowitz and the Doctors Council have been some of the nation¹s strongest advocates for improved care, as well as better hours and wages for physicians, in the era of managed care.
³In a climate where medicine has increasingly become a business, Doctors Council SEIU has become a significant platform to connect doctors and administrators by offering support for innovative healthcare programs and proposing new initiatives that enhance the quality of patient care within their institutions,² said Dr. Liebowitz.
Next month, Doctors Council SEIU will hold an election for a successor who will fill out the remainder of Dr. Liebowitz¹s term ending June 30, 2014.
Dr. Liebowitz grew up in the Bronx and graduated from William Howard Taft High School. After graduating from Columbia University with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Pharmacy, he was awarded a scholarship from the University of California Medical School at Irvine. In 1964, he began his career as a physician for the Scripts Institute of Oceanography expedition in the Amazon.
While serving as a pediatrician at Kaiser Permanente in California, he co-founded the Los Angeles Free Clinic (now known as the Saban Free Clinic) to provide medical, behavioral and social services to low-income and uninsured individuals at no cost. Established in 1967, it is the oldest continuously operating free clinic in the nation. The staff was made up entirely of volunteers and operated on donations. Today, it remains a critical component of LA¹s health care system by providing care to nearly 22,000 men, women and children regardless of their ability to pay or insurance status.
In l978, Dr. Liebowitz returned to New York City and joined the staff of Kings County Medical Center as an Associate Director of Pediatric Outpatient Services. He served more than 14 years at Kings County Hospital and Downstate Medical Center in Brooklyn as Chief of Clinical Toxicology Service in pediatrics, and as Clinical Associate Professor of Pediatrics.
Dr. Liebowitz is also Clinical Associate Professor of Pediatrics at New York University and a Physician Specialist at Bellevue Hospital Center.