Resident physicians at a New York City hospital once called “the epicenter of the epicenter” of the nation’s Covid-19 pandemic announced an end to their strike Wednesday after reaching a tentative agreement with their employer.
More than 150 resident doctors at Elmhurst Hospital in Queens began a strike Monday morning following nearly a year of negotiations, according to their union, the Committee of Interns and Residents (CIR).
The residents were not receiving the same pay and benefits as their nonunion counterparts working at other hospitals, according to Sunyata Altenor, who heads CIR’s communications.
Although the striking residents did not achieve exact parity on every element in the tentative agreement, “as a package, they did win pretty much parity,” Altenor said Wednesday.
“This fight was always about power, and Elmhurst residents are truly building that together,” Dr. Sarah Hafuth said in a CIR statement. “Getting a multi-billion-dollar revenue employer like Mount Sinai to move this far really shows what our movement as residents can achieve.”
Although Elmhurst is a municipal hospital, the residents are employed by Mount Sinai through a partnership program, Altenor said.
“We are pleased that Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai with the support of the NYC Health + Hospitals Corporation reached a tentative agreement with CIR,” Mount Sinai said in a statement Wednesday. “The proposed agreement is fair, responsible, and puts patients and residents’ educational training first.”
Residents will return to work at Elmhurst at 7 a.m. Thursday, the union said.
An 18% wage increase over three years retroactive to November 2022 was stipulated as part of the tentative agreement, as well as an enforceable agreement to negotiate on hazard pay among other tenets, according to the union.
The strike began and ended as the US is projected to face a shortage of up to 124,000 physicians by 2034 while demand outpaces supply, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges.
In the spring of 2020, Elmhurst was called “the epicenter of the epicenter” of the country’s coronavirus outbreak, with then-mayor Bill de Blasio saying it had “borne the brunt more than any other hospital in the city.” At the time, the 545-bed hospital had increased its intensive care units’ capacity by 500%.