Harlem Hospital Doctors Approve Labor Contract That Reduces Layoffs

By Jeff Mays on January 6, 2011 3:52pm 

Doctors protested the proposed contract in October.
Doctors protested the proposed contract in October.
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DNAInfo/Jeff Mays

By Jeff Mays

DNAInfo Reporter/Producer

HARLEM — Doctors at Harlem Hospital approved a new contract that will reduce the number of layoffs and keep medical services such as neurosurgery and rehabilitation at the hospital.

The new contract with the Physicians Affiliate Group of New York (PAGNY) will reduce the number of doctors from existing staff who were to be laid off from 20 to 6. Thirty-three of the 38 doctor positions that had been vacant will also be filled.

Other changes include a 1.5 percent salary increase and a 1.5 percent lump sum payment. Physicians Affiliate Group of New York has also pledged to not reduce the hours or layoff any additional doctors during this 18-month contract.

In an effort to close a $1.3 billion budget gap, the Health and Hospitals Corporation (HHC) announced a massive restructuring in May. The changes included layoffs in addition to combining services, and a restructuring of the affiliations of the 11 hospitals that HHC oversees. Columbia University will end its financial affiliation with Harlem Hospital as a result.

The doctors had threatened to walk off the job because a new contract would raise pension costs and eliminate free tuition for their children at Columbia.

The tuition benefit will be phased out after four years and some doctors' pension costs will rise. A new longevity benefit will provide $1,500 per year for doctors who have worked at Harlem Hospital for five years and $5,000 for those who have been at the hospital for 10 years or longer.

"We appreciate that the union and its membership recognizes the economic realities that challenge HHC and the city," HHC President Alan D. Aviles said in a statement. "We look forward to working with PAGNY and the dedicated physicians of Harlem Hospital to ensure a smooth transition that will be seamless to patients and will allow the hospital to continue to provide excellent care to its community."

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