Children's National physicians call for better working conditions amid RSV, flu surges

Physicians at Washington, D.C.-based Children's National Hospital, represented by the Committee of Interns and Residents, held a rally Nov. 15 amid contract negotiations, The Washington Post reported.

Dozens of union members and supporters attended the rally, according to the newspaper.

The Committee of Interns and Residents, a local of the Service Employees International Union, said the action is "to bring attention to [physicians'] ongoing struggle for a fair contract that allows them to adequately care for their patients while maintaining their own well-being."

More specifically, the union contends its resident physician and fellow members at Children's National say they lack sufficient limits regarding the number of patients they can see at a given time, resulting in mental health issues for the physicians. The union also contends members' salaries are not adequately keeping up with inflation.

"I felt like I had to choose what I wanted to do, and that's not fair to these families," Hannah Kilcoyne, MD, a first-year resident at Children's National, told The Washington Post on working during patient surges. "That's not the kind of doctor I want to be … I want to be able to do it all."

The rally comes as flu and respiratory syncytial virus cases surge across the U.S. Some hospitals are setting up overflow units and tents amid the surges.

Children's National acknowledged the surges and challenges physicians nationwide are facing, such as managing a significant increase in emergency department visits and admissions.

"Children's hospitals around the country are managing through record surges in patients while also managing healthcare workforce shortages," the hospital said in a statement shared with Becker's. "We also see some hospitals closing pediatric inpatient beds and even closing pediatric intensive care beds, which puts even greater stress on children's hospitals."

"We thank the residents for their hard work and dedication to our patients," the statement said. "We have made much progress at the negotiating table, and we hope they focus on working to finalize the contract."

The Committee of Interns and Residents represents more than 22,000 resident physicians and fellows in the U.S.

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