NYU Langone residents, leaders butt heads over hazard pay request

A request for hazard pay — compensation for the increased risk of providing care during the COVID-19 pandemic — from residents at New York City-based NYU Langone Medical has been rejected by hospital leaders, MedPage Today reports.

The hospital, however, is trying to provide more compensation to residents in other ways, a spokesperson told Becker's.

The residents created a petition requesting hazard pay, as well as life and disability insurance, while they face the heightened risk of providing care to COVID-19 patients.

"As the demand placed on our hospital systems skyrockets, our risk of hospital-acquired infection increases," the residents stated in the petition. "In addition, we are experiencing both increased hours and patient loads in the ED, on the wards and in the ICU."

But hospital leadership has pushed back. Herbert Lepor, MD, chair of the urology department, wrote in an email sent to urology residents that though he understands their concerns, he personally feels that asking for hazard pay now was "not becoming of a compassionate and caring physician."

Another set of internal emails, posted to social media, show hospital leaders discussing the hazard pay request and how to turn it down.

"I think if we were to share the larger financial impact across the institution … and as such our decision now is to limit bonuses with potential pay cut in order to maintain jobs for all, the more mature residents may understand," Patrick Cocks, MD, director of the hospital's internal medicine residency program, wrote in an email, according to MedPage Today.

Hospital spokeswoman Lisa Greiner told Becker's that the hospital is projecting losses of nearly $450 million a month.

"To put such losses into context, $450 million a month is more than we have earned in a year, our best year. And while we may have peaked in terms of COVID-19 admissions, we are far from done with this pandemic, and it's far from done with us," she said in a statement shared via email.

The hospital is also offering to advance pay residents and fellows who have provided direct care to COVID-19 patients at a higher level of responsibility than usual. They will receive the compensation they would have started receiving July 1 — when they advanced to the next postgraduate year — retroactively on April 1.

But some residents said they feel that in an unprecedented time such as this, when residents are asked to serve, healthcare institutions should meet all their needs — physical, psychological and financial, MedPage Today reports.

"We are not soldiers," a New York City-based resident told the publication on the condition of anonymity. "No one is trained to confront this amount of death in such a short period of time."


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