Around 30 physicians and nurses rallied this week outside California Hospital Medical Center, a Dignity Health facility.
The hospital’s 24 Family Medicine residents organized a “Unity Break” and press conference during their lunch in response to the hospital’s proposal to increase healthcare costs for its employees by up to $2,100 a year, with an annual 6 percent increase.
The residents, alongside supportive nurses and technicians from the staff, spoke out about their struggles to reach a fair contract with California Hospital Medical Center.
“We see “humankindness” [part of Dignity’s marketing campaign] all across the walls of the hospital we work in, however, we do not feel that we are being treated with human kindness,” said Dr. Arpi Hambarchyan. “Instead, we are told that these changes in our health insurance shouldn’t be a big deal, because it will only affect a few of the residents of our program. However, something that affects one of us affects all of us, because we are only able to provide high quality care when all of us are functioning at our maximum potential.”
Dr. Anna Pham described the barriers to getting married and having children under the proposed contract. “As long as I am a physician at Dignity Health, taking care of my underrepresented patients, I will have to give up a portion of my basic living expenses in order to start a family. In order to afford the same care that I provide my own economically disadvantaged patients, I will have to sacrifice my own livelihood. This is no way to live if our goal as an organization is to project and spread human kindness.”
“With the changes and increasing demand in healthcare today, and being on the frontline of providing care as a Family Medicine resident, working long hours to do the best job possible, I feel it’s urgent to be provided with health care,” said Dr. Ruth Montes, a first generation college graduate in her family. “I’ve already had the misfortune at some point in my life of being without health coverage following an auto accident and absorbing excessive healthcare costs as a result of not affording an insurance plan.”
The resident physicians also emphasized concerns over their call rooms, access to safe parking spaces, and access to meals for overnight shifts – all basic necessities of the job.
The residents were joined by Dr. Ron Birnbaum, a USC-Eisner faculty member and former member of the Committee of Interns and Residents who is currently running for State Assembly.
“These are folks who give, give, and give,” Dr. Birnbaum said. “We have a shortage of primary care doctors in this state. We have underserved communities who need these doctors to take care of them. What kind of message do we send to them and their community when we’re going to take away the healthcare of their families?
Members of the CIR Bargaining Team at CHMC are available for interviews upon request.
About the Committee of Interns and Residents (CIR/SEIU Healthcare)
Founded in 1957, the Committee of Interns and Residents (CIR/SEIU Healthcare) is the oldest and largest housestaff union in the U.S., representing more than 15,000 physicians in public and private teaching hospitals across the country. CIR empowers resident physicians to have a voice in their employment and training and to be advocates for their patients.