By DIANE S. WILLIAMS
At five annual meetings NYC Health+Hospitals held this spring, DC 37 leaders, members and public health advocates voiced concerns about the future of the largest public health care system in America.
“We celebrate our success in convincing Governor Cuomo to protect and fund safety net hospitals, save MetroPlus from a $200 million cut, and let Medicaid money follow Medicaid patients, but our work doesn’t stop there,” said Renee Gainer, DC 37 Clerical Division director who spoke at Sea View Hospital and Rehabilitation Center on May 2.
Dedicated DC 37 members work to make NYC H+H successful despite its financial woes: Sea View Hospital Rehabilitation Center is reknown for its program for patients with Alzheimer’s and dementia and has received top rankings from the state Dept. of Health and U.S. News & World Report.
In April, Leapfrog rated NYC H+H Metropolitan Hospital “A” for overall care and Queens Hospital “A” for cleanliness—ranking them among the very best hospitals—private or public—in the nation.
Council 37 represents more than 18,000 NYC H+H employees in 11 local unions who provide vital services to over 1.4 million patients a year and a half million uninsured and undocumented patients at H+H’s network of hospitals, clinics and long-term care facilities.
On May 16, Council Rep Sallie Stallings, at Kings County Hospital’s annual meeting, said, “Our members provide vital health care in their communities and work to serve the city’s ever-changing demographics. We advocate for a thriving Health and Hospitals system.”
New York City’s underserved neighborhoods have a history of a lack of access to primary care doctors, and hospital closures and consolidations. The poorest communities face serious health challenges from asthma, hypertension, diabetes and childhood obesity, and access to quality care for seniors.
DC 37’s Barbara Edmonds reminded H+H of the union’s commitment to H+H’s survival and its mission to provide quality health care regardless of one’s ability to pay.
Health + Hospitals unionized staff makes the public healthcare system a proven and reliable resource during national disasters such as the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, Super Storm Sandy, and outbreaks of Ebola and West Nile viruses.
“The Trump Administration’s efforts to slash Medicaid and Medicare and end Obamacare threatens NYC H+H,” said Edmonds, who quoted Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.: “Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in health care is the most shocking and inhumane.”