New York’s Elmhurst Hospital residents’ strike ends

Residents ended a three-day strike at Elmhurst Hospital Center in Queens after reaching a preliminary agreement Wednesday that they said brought them closer to the revenues of their Manhattan counterparts.

The strike, the first by New York City hospital doctors in more than 30 years, attracted widespread attention in part because of where it took place. Elmhurst was one of the first hospitals in the United States to be overwhelmed by Covid-19. Description of Dr. Elmhurst of desperate and dying patients A warning of what was to come was sent to the rest of the country in March 2020.

The pandemic has led to a surge in physician activism. More than 150 people took part in the strike, all residents, the term for new doctors who train in hospitals. Their demands include higher wages and stronger hazard pay guarantees in the event of future pandemics.

Dr. Tanathun Kajornsakchai, one of the resident leaders, said the tentative agreement brought him and his colleagues “closer” to achieving parity with some of their colleagues in Manhattan.

“We’ve got more than we would have otherwise,” Dr Kajornsakchai said, adding, “This small group of residents has put up an uphill battle.”

Elmhurst, one of 11 public hospitals in the city, treats many of the city’s undocumented immigrants, the working poor and indigent patients. Residents working at Elmhurst, however, are not employed by the public hospital system but by the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in Manhattan. As a result, NYC Health and Hospitals, the city’s public hospital system, has been largely a bystander in the labor dispute.

Residents noted that their wages were lower than what Mount Sinai’s senior hospital on East 98th Street, across from Central Park, paid residents. First-year residency salaries vary by about $7,000, they said. Some of the doctors on strike said they believed the pay gap had to do with the fact that many residents at the city’s public hospitals are foreigners on visas.

“The proposed protocol is fair, accountable and prioritizes patient and resident education and training,” Mount Sinai spokeswoman Lucia Lee said in a statement.

The Union Interns and Residents Committee, which represents the striking doctors, said doctors would return to work Thursday morning. The strike, which began Monday, involves only internal medicine, pediatrics and psychiatry residents.

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