Brookdale Hospital Cut Health Care Coverage for Health Workers
You have to wonder what they were thinking. On the heels of federal corruption indictments involving both Brookdale and Jamaica Hospitals, Medisys administrators attract more attention to themselves by defaulting on payments to the healthcare fund due May 19 for 3,400 workers and their families. The default prompted trustees of the 1199 health benefit fund to cut off all covered employees and their beneficiaries. In response, Brookdale Hospital’s health care workers staged a job action.
Medisys administrators took a two prong approach to the job action. Medisys turned off air conditioning in the section of Brookdale where the job action is taking place. They went to court seeking an injunction against the workers, alleging they were disruptive, blocking patient access, and trespassing on Medisys property. Employees provided the court with pictures proving otherwise. The court did not make an immediate decision on the injunction, which would have required employees to leave the premises and put their professional licenses in jeopardy.
In addition, Medisys sought to unilaterally violate a collective bargaining agreement by substituting Blue Cross/Blue Shield as administrator of employee health care. Under Medisys’ amendment of the negotiated agreement, employees would be covered under Blue Cross/Blue Shield 10 days after Medisys receives a list of employees covered under the 1199 Benefit Fund.
There are two problems with Medisys’ proposal. Brookdale Hospital healthcare workers did not agree to be covered under Blue Cross/Blue Shield via collective bargaining, nor do they want it now.
Of immediate concern is the fact that Brookdale Hospital health care workers are not now covered. All worker categories involved in the job action -- including dietary, housekeeping, and clerical workers, radiology and other technicians, pharmacists, some midwives, some physician assistants, and every category of registered nurses – have direct patient contact and are at risk of infection.
1199 SEIU blames Brookdale management for causing the crisis and is calling for the CEO and Board of Brookdale Hospital to resign. The union is requesting that the State Department of Health appoint a temporary receiver “to put the hospital’s finances in order.”
The impasse between 1199 healthcare workers and Brookdale Hospital’s administration could only begin to be resolved by local elected officials: State Senator John Sampson, Assembly members N. Nick Perry and Inez Baron, and Councilman Charles Barron.
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