What Makes CIR Vital?

Farbod Raiszadeh, MD, MPH

Dr. Farbod Raiszadeh, CIR National President

Welcome to the first issue of CIR Vitals! I’m sad to say this is my last column as CIR president, but I’m happy to introduce the renamed and redesigned CIR News. CIR Vitals will continue to serve as a record of the union’s activities and provide essential updates about CIR. In addition, we hope to delve deeper into the issues that affect residents across the country.

We are living in a time of tremendous change. The environment in which we work, learn, practice medicine, treat patients, and shape our future is shifting rapidly. Our objective in CIR Vitals is to document and analyze the ways  medicine is evolving as a profession, the vital part residents can play in work redesign and patient safety, the role of  money and politics in health care, and other issues that are critically important to CIR members.

The issues confronting us right now are not small. The last few months have revealed serious threats to many of our   hospitals, the patients we care for, and the people who provide that care. As the recession has forced more people  onto unemployment and Medicaid, states are slashing their Medicaid budgets and limiting eligibility. With the decline  in insured patients, safety-net hospitals lose revenue. As a result, several CIR hospitals are operating in the  red and fighting for survival.

On top of all that, we are seeing efforts in a dozen states, from Wisconsin to Florida, to strip public employees of their  rights to collective bargaining. CIR represents more than 6,000 residents in public hospitals, so this is not an abstract  problem for us.

But instead of fearing the worst and bracing ourselves for these threats, I believe this is a chance for CIR to do what  we do best. We are being proactive and looking for innovative ways to improve efficiency and patient care in our  hospitals. We actually put Quality Improvement on the bargaining table in three recent contracts, and got funding set  aside for housestaff incentive programs. We are now using those first-of-their- kind contracts as a model for other hospitals that want to collaborate with housestaff to jointly improve quality.

We are also paving the way on patient safety and work redesign. In March 2011 we convened a one-day conference in  the Bay Area for residents, attendings, and program directors to hear best practices from programs that have   successfully redesigned their schedules and improved workflow. And we continue to collaborate with major hospital systems in the Northeast to spur patient safety initiatives, some of which you’ll read about in this issue.

How are you seizing this opportunity in your hospital? We want to know about your Quality Improvement work,
your resident education projects, your unusual Patient Care Fund proposals.

I have just returned from National Convention and am pleased to pass the reins to our new CIR President Dr. Hillary  Tompkins and the members of the 2011-2012 Executive Committee. It has been an honor serving as CIR president,  and I look forward to staying involved and seeing all the ways you are taking advantage of the unique voice we have as CIR members.

Learn more about National Convention and the 2011-2012 Executive Committee at www.cirseiu.org.

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