After seven months of working under an expired contract while the President of Mt. Sinai Health System, the healthcare system that owns Mt. Sinai St. Luke’s and Mt. Sinai West (formerly St. Luke’s Roosevelt Hospital Center) earns in excess of $4 million per year, the housestaff took a major stand on June 8 to say “enough is enough” at a press conference held in front of Mt. Sinai West.
The group of more than thirty CIR members called on the hospital leadership to respect their contributions to patient care and put salary increases on the table.
“We’ve been at the table with the leaders of Mount Sinai for months to try to get a raise in our salary over the next three years,” said Dr. Joanne Ahn, an emergency medicine resident. “This is NOT a raise for me, as I am graduating in one year and will be long gone before seeing the effects! This is to keep my future generation of hard working and passionate resident doctors earning a fair wage while caring for our most needy patients in one of the most expensive cities in the country.”
CIR Executive Vice President Dr. MIchelle Fletcher questioned how the profitable hospital system can reject salary increases for the 450+ residents and fellows serving Mount Sinai West and St. Luke’s.
Mount Sinai receives $193,000 per resident in Graduate Medical Education funding through Medicare, and the hospital system’s president, Kenneth Davis, earns more than $4 million a year.
Elected officials showed their support for the residents and urged the hospital to bargain in good faith. Councilman Corey Johnson and spokespeople for State Senator Brad Hoylman and Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal joined the residents Thursday.
“The resident physicians at Mount Sinai West and St. Luke’s have dedicated their lives to helping others. It’s only fair that their contract provides them wages that reflect this commitment,” said Sen. Hoylman. “I am proud to join with the Committee of Interns and Residents/SEIU Healthcare in calling on Mount Sinai to come to the negotiating table to work towards a new, fair contract for resident physicians.”
Dr. Lindsay Morrison summed up the frustration of her and her colleagues: “It’s very simple: at the end of the day sometimes we go home feeling like we’ve failed. Sometimes it’s because we lost a patient. Other times it’s because we couldn’t save someone from a sudden heart attack or complication. Working for a hospital that doesn’t respect us enough to offer even small increases speaks to how undervalued we are. It’s isn’t just about money and respect, patient care and physician well-being are connected. It is imperative that we take care of the people who take care of the community.”