LOWER MANHATTAN — New York Downtown Hospital has laid off its entire paramedic and emergency medical technician staff, leaving more than 40 healthcare workers' jobs in limbo as the financially strapped hospital prepares for its takeover by New York-Presbyterian, DNAinfo New York has learned.
“We were totally shocked,” said one EMT worker who asked that his name be withheld. “We were blindsided.”
The emergency workers were given their 30 days' notice on May 13, according to several sources, after a meeting with New York Downtown's administration and representatives from the workers’ union, 1199 SEIU.
The medics said New York Downtown officials told them the move was part of the hospital’s “transitioning” into the merger with New York-Presbyterian, a hospital that does not have unionized paramedics and EMTs.
At a meeting the following day, the employees were told by New York Presbyterian’s representatives that they could reapply for their jobs, though they'd have to give up their union affiliation, medics said.
And while the EMTs and paramedics said the New York-Presbyterian representatives were very reassuring about their ability to get rehired — and several had already been offered new positions — there’s no guarantee for everyone, leaving some feeling like they were let down by their union.
“They gave us no warning this was going to happen,” said the EMT worker, who was offered an EMT position, at the same salary, with New York-Presbyterian at the end of last week. “I feel like they could have done a better job looking out for us — that’s what a union is supposed to do."
The 1199 union and Downtown Hospital did not immediately return requests for comment, and New York-Presbyterian declined to comment.
Several sources said emergency workers who have been union members for 10 or more years were given additional — though not ideal — alternate job options by 1199.
One paramedic, who also asked that his name be withheld, said the union told him he could stay at New York Downtown, and with the union, if he took a position as a hospital technician.
Technicians usually make a much lower salary than paramedics, but, he said, the union told him he could keep his salary, though he’s not sure if that’s the policy for everyone — or even if that compensation is definitely guaranteed for him.
“There’s a lot of confusion right now,” said the paramedic. “It’s really disrupting everyone’s lives — the only thing we know is that we won't have the same jobs in a month.”
"I don't know what my hours will be like, if I'll work in this hospital, or New-York Presbyterian uptown, how my benefits will change," the paramedic added. "It's just questions, questions, questions."
Many members of the hospital’s secretarial staff are also part of the 1199 union, said several sources, though it was unclear whether they would also need to reapply for their positions.
This is the second round of takeover-related layoffs for the ailing hospital. As DNAinfo New York first reported in March, New York Downtown fired its more than 70 residents, leaving the young doctors scrambling to find new positions.