For Immediate Release
Press Contact: Dara Streit
New York’s Resident Seek Immediate Reform to Improve physician well-being and Patient Safety
New York City, NY—On Friday, September 24, the New York City Council’s Committee on Hospitals heard testimony and personal stories from 15 Resident Physicians and Interns at New York City Health + Hospitals, represented by the Committee of Interns and Residents (CIR-SEIU), on the exploitation they face and immediate steps that must be taken to improve conditions for doctors and patients.
NYC H+H’s culture of burnout and exploitation has only been exacerbated by the pandemic, and residents demanded immediate steps to ensure their wellbeing and ability to provide quality patient care. At the hearing, hospital officials admitted that their program does not address suicide and other important mental health issues.
“Our direct appeal is this: allocate more resources to H+H. Ensure safe nursing ratios at H+H, and more transport and phlebotomy staff. …It will mean that we can focus on doing our own jobs, and focus less on plugging the holes of a currently under-resourced system,” said Dr. Leo Eisenstein, a 3rd-year Internal Medicine Resident at Bellevue Hospital Center.
During the worst of the pandemic, these doctors worked at great risk to their wellbeing to serve their community and provide quality patient care; often working over 80 hours a week with dangerously long shifts to compensate for widespread staffing shortages.
“The 2,800 housestaff in the NYC H+H system are proud to serve our city’s most vulnerable communities and provide the quality of care they deserve,” said Dr. Oluyemi Omotoso, a 4th-year Emergency Medicine Resident and Lincoln Hospital and National Secretary-Treasurer for CIR. “However, residency is an extremely difficult time with brutal working conditions that are disrespectful and dangerous …for both patients and residents.”
Many residents submitted anonymous testimony to the union representatives for fear of dismissal or retribution, which they have routinely faced from hospital administration.
“In the lead-up to this hearing, we had countless members reach out to tell us they were bullied, dismissed, gaslit and retaliated against for speaking out,” said Dr. Michael Del Valle, a 4th-year Resident in Emergency at Jacobi Medical Center. “We need H+H to have system-wide oversight.”
In sharing their harrowing personal accounts with the NYC Council, the resident physicians hope to improve working conditions and stop the culture of bullying and harassment facilitated by hospital administration.
“In just over a year working as a resident physician at [my hospital] I have continually felt powerless. My residency started amidst the COVID-19 pandemic and I have not experienced life as a resident in which many of my colleagues are not burned out, exhausted from caring for COVID patients, or angered by being put on the frontlines without proper safety protections or hazard pay. I have seen a tremendous lack of resources and staffing to best care for our patients, including limited MRI and EEG machines causing delays in diagnosis and treatment.” – Anonymous quote excerpt.
Video and minutes from the Committee hearing will be posted by the Council following the meeting, and can be accessed here.
The Committee of Interns and Residents (CIR) is the largest house staff 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.