At NY Presbyterian, Protecting Workers Was A Priority

September 3, 2020

The hospital developed an unprecedented support program for its healthcare heroes during the COVID-19 crisis.

Screen Shot 2020-09-03 at 1.14.24 PM.pngAs COVID-19 engulfed New York City, hospitals and healthcare workers became both beacons of hope and ground zero for COVID’s ravages.

Caregivers battling the largest public health disaster in modern American history also struggled to protect their own health, provide for their families and care for their patients.

The pandemic highlighted many issues, but especially the critical importance of effective healthcare leadership. Aided by dedicated staff, a forward-thinking management team, and the ability to plan and pivot, NY-Presbyterian Hospital, with its six campuses and regional hospitals, played a central role in New York’s COVID-19 response.

Under the direction of CEO Dr. Steven Corwin, NY-Presbyterian offered exemplary care to affected New Yorkers and commitment the institution’s caregivers. Working together, the hospital, Union leadership and institution-based committees of rank and filers, developed an unprecedented package of support programs to help workers through the COVID-19 crisis.

“NY-Presbyterian’s response has been exemplary. I began my healthcare career at New York-Presbyterian, so I know what an exceptional institution it is,” said 1199SEIU President George Gresham. “The hospital and Dr. Corwin have worked with us in a spirit of true partnership and genuine concern for healthcare workers and the communities they serve.”

During the crisis, workers received recognition pay, child and elder care assistance, free temporary housing, grocery deliveries, hardship grants, meals at work, free transportation, free counseling and pastoral care and much more. The institution also worked to provide appropriate PPE and COVID-19 testing. “Meeting the needs of their employees during that time was a real collaboration between the Union and NY-Presbyterian. 1199 and Presbyterian are deeply committed to making sure that healthcare workers are protected, compensated, and able to care for their families,” says 1199SEIU Executive Vice President Jacqueline Alleyne. “I work at Presbyterian and my husband is a nurse at the hospital. We both got COVID,” said cytotechnologist Nikosa Collins. “We were quarantined, and the support from Presbyterian really meant a lot. We didn’t have to worry about days off or how we were going to take care of our kids. We could focus on getting better and getting back to work to take care of patients.” Respect and quality care are the foundations of Dr. Corwin’s management philosophy.

“This was an enormous undertaking. We have not seen the likes of this in my 40 years in medicine,” said Dr. Corwin. “It really required an enormous amount of good will and competencies on the part of all the healthcare workers. This was unprecedented and all the strategies in the world go out the window unless you have very dedicated people [caring for] patients and the communities they come from. I can’t thank our 1199 workers for everything they did, and they did it with grace, grit and determination. I was truly humbled.”

Nikosa Collins says that acknowledgement has reinforced a genuine sense of community at NYPresbyterian. “Dr. Corwin gets it,” says Collins.

“Everything he and his team have done—from their COVID response to their work around race relations, inclusion and diversity—shows how much they care and how they really understand the needs of Presbyterian workers, and the time and culture they’re in.”

1199 Magazine | July / August 2020