October 30, 2014
By Marc Bussanich
Brooklyn, NY—In an interview immediately following a rally outside Woodhull Medical Center, the president of the Doctors Council SEIU said that the council has been trying to engage the Health and Hospitals Corporation for a new contract but that their efforts are falling on deaf ears.
Physicians with the Doctors Council rallied outside the medical center on Wednesday afternoon where they were joined by other public sector unions whose members also work for H.H.C. The physicians, along with about 40 percent of the city workforce, have been working without a contract for four to five years.
In the accompanying video, we asked Dr. Frank Proscia, president of the Doctors Council, why his members rallied on Wednesday.
“We’re fighting for every doctor in the H.H.C. system, regardless of who their employer is—whether it’s the city, or an affiliate such as Mt. Sinai, NYU or PAGNY [Physician Affiliate Group of New York]. The doctors haven’t had a contract in five years. We’ve been engaging our employers and our managers, but unfortunately it’s falling on deaf ears. And the doctors are just frustrated now,” said Proscia.
The lack of a new contract stems back to former Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s administration when the city’s entire public sector workforce labored under expired contracts. Proscia said the consequences of no contract are making it difficult to attract new doctors.
“It’s been hard to hold on to good doctors. Once a doctor is lost, it’s hard to try to find another doctor to come to work in a situation where they’re not valued and their input is not needed. It’s just a spiraling decline. There is a disillusionment among the doctors,” Proscia said.
How can the current mayoral administration resolve the impasse?
“The current administration is health friendly. He [de Blasio] wants the very best for the public hospital system. He said it before he became mayor, and he continues to say it now. He’s 100 percent behind health care in this city; he wants H.H.C. to be better than anything else out there. I have the utmost faith that he can do that,” said Proscia.
Regarding the impact on patient care due to the lack of a new contract, Proscia said the primary consequence is the loss of staff.
“Their input on quality measures is being ignored. Unfortunately, the status quo hasn’t changed. But we want a true partnership to improve things here far beyond its imagined capacity. I think we believe in this system more than the managers and administrators [at H.H.C.].”