Doctors Council Testimony Before NYC City Council

For Immediate Release
February 24, 2014

Testimony of Doctors Council SEIU Presented by Frank Proscia, M.D, President – Before the City Council Health Committee Oversight- Examining the Status of “Restructuring HHC: The Road Ahead”: What Progress has Been Made and What Challenges Lie Ahead

Good afternoon Chairman Johnson and members of the Health Committee.  I would like to thank each of you for convening this hearing on HHC, our public hospital system for New York City.

My name is Frank Proscia, M.D., and I am the President of Doctors Council SEIU.  Our union represents doctors in the metropolitan area and in states throughout the country. This includes the attending physicians and dentists in HHC hospitals and facilities.

In 2013, our doctors at HHC facilities served more than 1.5 million patients, approximately 40% of whom were uninsured.

We are a united voice for doctors, our patients and the communities we serve.  We take seriously our role as patient advocates.  One of our key goals has been and continues to be advocating and engaging with HHC to increase doctors’, other health care workers’ and patients’ and communities’ input, increasing timely access to patient care services and improving health care outcomes and patient satisfaction.

To truly get HHC to be a provider of choice and not last resort we must work together to not just survive but to thrive in the years ahead.  There can no longer be business as usual.

With all the changes occurring in healthcare, including the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, HHC becoming an Accountable Care Organization (ACO) and transforming into a Patient Centered Medical Home (PCMH), the HHC Diagnostic & Treatment Centers becoming a Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC), the use of electronic medical records and changes in how health systems are reimbursed, now more than ever we must all work together.

As doctors, we view things through the prism of health care and the impact on our patients.  Our doctors work in HHC because they are dedicated to public health care through the professions of medicine and dentistry.  Doctors are the frontline clinicians in our communities who actually treat and take care of our patients and need to be equal partners with hospital administration and management.

That is why we are doing a number of exciting initiatives on Quality Improvement work.  We are partnering with Cornell University.  First, we are working on a white paper that underscores quality improvement and empowering frontline doctors.  It is a call to action for HHC to meaningfully and substantively engage physicians in addressing  quality improvement.  Second, we are doing two surveys- the first of our leaders and the second of all our HHC members, on quality and system improvement activities in the HHC system.

Third, we are doing three pilot projects that will require doctor input and involvement in areas to benefit patient care and improve quality and patient satisfaction.  These projects may examine areas such as:

  • Cycle time in the Emergency Department (ED) at Harlem Hospital in terms of reducing the amount of time for a patient to be treated and discharged in the Emergency Department or to be admitted to a floor if medically needed;
  • Census/volume of patients at Gouverneur D&TC in terms of how we can attract more patients and why we may be losing some; and
  • Waiting times to see a Primary Care Physician, and get a follow up appointment and test results in the Medicine out-patient department at Jacobi Medical Center.

In the near future, the members of the Council, the Mayor, Public Advocate, other elected officials and the new President of HHC will receive a copy of our white paper- which offers a transformative view of patient care in the HHC system.

There is a new Mayor and many new elected members of the City Council.  There will be a new President of HHC, with whom we have worked with in New York and in Cook County, Chicago as we also represent the doctors in the Chicago public health and hospital system.  This can be the dawn of a new day for our public healthcare hospitals and facilities here in New York City.

We call on HHC to have a partnership with the doctors to be involved in quality improvement.  And, as doctors, we know that means not only listening to and empowering the frontline clinicians who take care of our patients, but also involving the patients from the communities we serve and the other health care workers as part of the patient care delivery team.

We are cautiously optimistic that things will begin to change and doctors become appropriately valued for our commitment and expertise in public healthcare in our communities.

Doctors Council SEIU stands prepared to be HHC’s partner in this effort.

We are stronger together.

I would also like to add that Doctors Council SEIU stands united with our community and union allies in calling for the re-opening of labor and delivery services at North Central Bronx Hospital.  The community needs these services.  After extensive advocacy from our union and the coalition, HHC committed to reopen this by April 30th.  Now the State DOH will decertify those beds absent a plan and action by HHC.  This is unacceptable.  We are working with our partners in the Council to call on HHC to reopen by April 30th.  The patients, the women and the community served deserve no less.

Thank you for your time today and I’d be happy to answer any questions.


About Doctors Council SEIU

Doctors Council SEIU, a professional organization for doctors, is the nation’s oldest and largest union of attending physicians and dentists in the United States, with members in New York City, and in states across the country. Formed in 1973, Doctors Council SEIU is a union for doctors and a voice for patients, and represents attending physicians and dentists at Health and Hospitals Corporation (HHC) facilities and hospitals, including doctors employed by the affiliates New York University School of Medicine, the Mount Sinai School of Medicine and the Physician Affiliate Group of New York (PAGNY). HHC is the largest public hospital system in the nation. Doctors Council SEIU also represents doctors in the New York City Mayoral agencies including the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) as well as doctors working at Rikers Island, the largest correctional facility in the nation. Affiliated with SEIU, Doctors Council SEIU is a national union representing doctors employed in the public and private sectors.

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