NEW YORK (AP) — About 160 resident physicians went on strike Monday over what they called low pay at New York City’s Elmhurst Hospital Center, a public hospital once known as the epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic in 2020.
The doctors-in-training at the Queens hospital, who are employed by the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai Hospital in Manhattan, are the first doctors to go on strike in the city since 1990, according to their labor union, the Committee of Interns and Residents local of the Service Employees International Union.
Mount Sinai “refuses to pay us the same as our coworkers doing the exact same job at Mount Sinai Hospital in Manhattan,” Dr. Joya Dupre, a second-year internal medicine resident at Elmhurst, said in a union statement. ”It feels, fundamentally, like Mount Sinai is saying that this community does not matter. Like we as Elmhurst residents do not matter, as largely immigrant, union doctors.”
Mount Sinai released a statement Monday saying it was “working towards an equitable and reasonable resolution that is in the best interest for both our residents at Elmhurst as well as for the Mount Sinai Health System.” It also said it was working with Elmhurst on contingency plans to ensure patient care is not affected by the strike.
The resident physicians and Mount Sinai have been in negotiations for nearly a year. A five-day strike is planned.
Pay has been the major sticking point. The union says first-year Mount Sinai resident physicians working at Elmhurst are making about $7,000 less annually than their peers working at Mount Sinai’s main campus in Manhattan.
Also Monday, the union announced that another 500 resident physicians at Mount Sinai Morningside/West in Manhattan have authorized a strike, also over pay.
Elmhurst was among several city hospitals overrun by the coronavirus when the pandemic began. Medical staff at Elmhurst described gasping patients arriving — seemingly nonstop — ventilators running low, and death totals so high that a refrigerated morgue truck had to be stationed outside.