Healthcare workers protest at three WMC hospitals

Warwick. The demonstration was to call attention to what the organizers described as “diminishing services” at the hospitals.

| 07 May 2024 | 03:57

On Tuesday, May 7, healthcare workers at three area hospitals operated by Westchester Medical Center held signs protesting what they described as diminishing services at the hospitals, citing layoffs and a focus on WMC’s main facility in Westchester County. The demonstrators, part of the 1199SEIU healthcare workers union, claimed that WMC was also moving resources to its main campus.

The healthcare workers demonstrated for two hours outside of St. Anthony Community Hospital in Warwick, Bon Secours Community Hospital in Port Jervis, and Good Samaritan Hospital in Suffern.

At St. Anthony, the protesters said the hospital had recently laid off several people, allegedly without reason, including food service workers, receptionists, and certain specialists such as an echo cardiologist and a phlebotomist.

A flier given out to passersby said, “We are holding this picket today to tell WMC that they must not reduce staff and services at our hospitals.”

According to the hospitals’ websites, the services currently listed as being available at St. Anthony and Bon Secours include X-rays, MRI imaging, CT scans, ultrasounds, mamography, inpatient dialysis, and same-day surgeries, among several others. In 2016, the Westchester Medical Center Health Network (WMCHealth) earmarked $15 million for Bon Secours, which also received a $24.5 million grant from the state that year. The funds were meant for a “medical village” at the Port Jervis hospital, plus various renovation work.

The flier went on to say, “Everyone knows there is a serious staffing problem in the healthcare industry. Yet, the Westchester Medical Center administration seems to be ignoring this reality. Recently, they sent layoff notices at Good Samaritan, Bon Secours, and St. Anthony community hospitals. 1199SEIU worked to ensure that many of those who were slated for layoff will be able to stay in their positions or fill existing vacancies, but there are still those who will be unemployed. And we’re concerned that WMC may have more layoffs in mind.”

The organizers also claimed that only WMC was laying off staff and reducing services at its community hospitals, while other NY hospitals were working to recruit and retain staff.

When asked to comment on the protest, WMCHealth issued the following statement: “The Bon Secours Charity Health System, which includes Good Samaritan Hospital, St. Anthony Community Hospital, and Bon Secours Community Hospital, recently made the difficult decision to reduce a mix of 50 union and non-union positions. This decision followed a comprehensive review of operations, staffing, and services to align resources in a manner that best supports our community’s needs.

“Importantly, patient care services are unaffected, and no services were closed due to this decision. We are committed to helping affected workforce members by identifying other open positions within our WMCHealth Network and offering complementary outplacement services for workforce members who need it.”