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CommonSpirit Denies Fifty-nine Resident Physicians Housing Allowance
Resident physicians at CommonSpirit owned California Hospital Medical Center and St. Mary Medical Center, some of LA’s healthcare heroes, negotiate critical benefits

Los Angeles, CA – The price of rent is on the rise again, and Los Angeles’ healthcare heroes are struggling to make ends meet. 

Twenty-four Resident physicians at California Hospital Medical Center in downtown Los Angeles and thirty-five Resident physicians at St. Mary Medical Center in Long Beach have requested a $10,000 annual housing stipend from their employer, CommonSpirit. The Resident physicians, who are members of the Committee of Interns and Residents (CIR/SEIU), began negotiating a new contract in March 2021. At two recent bargaining sessions, hospital management has made a $0 counter to their proposal. 

My colleagues and I work 80-hour weeks, and still 71% of my salary goes to rent,” explained Dr. Farrahi, a 2nd-year Resident physician at CHMC. “I have $350,000 in student loans, and I’m only able to make the minimum payment because so much of my salary has to cover rent. My co-residents at almost all other Los Angeles residency programs have already been granted housing stipends.”

Despite the difficulties of the pandemic, both CommonSpirit owned hospitals reported excellent financial results to the Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development, a California state agency that gathers hospital financial data. St. Mary Medical Center posted a positive operating margin for the first time in years and reported $37 million of unrestricted cash, a substantial increase from previous years. California Hospital Medical Center’s reported a 14% operating margin and end-of-year cash reserves of nearly $200 million.  

The unprecedented operating margins speak to the hard work and sacrifices my colleagues and I made during the depths of the pandemic,” said Dr. Kerry Moseman, 3rd-year Internal Medicine Resident physician at SMMC. “CommonSpirit has the opportunity to demonstrate the value its Resident physicians bring to our hospitals and communities.” 

In addition to the requested housing allowance, CIR/SEIU members at California Hospital Medical Center and St. Mary Medical Center have also proposed increasing paid sick leave to ten days from the two days in their current contracts. 

Contract negotiations resume later this week. Resident physicians at California Hospital Medical Center and St. Mary Medical Center are hopeful that CommonSpirit will bargain in good faith to provide its healthcare heroes the basic benefits they eminently need. 

Background: CommonSpirit, a non-profit corporation with over $53 billion in total assets, formed in February 2019, the result of a merger between Dignity Health and Catholic Health Initiatives (CHI).  The entity operates nearly 150 hospitals and over 700 other healthcare facilities nationwide, and serves as the parent entity to California Hospital Medical Center in downtown Los Angeles and St. Mary Medical Center in Long Beach. 

The Committee of Interns and Residents (CIR) is the largest housestaff union in the United States. A local of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), representing over 20,000 resident physicians and fellows. Our members are dedicated to improving residency training and education, advancing patient care, and expanding healthcare access for our communities.