Mount Sinai Health System Residents Share Hopes and Concerns about Merger

Demetri BlanasDr. Demetri Blanas, Institute for Family Health
“I’m especially concerned for patients who don’t have insurance,” says Dr. Demetri Balanas, a family medicine resident at the Institute for Family Health. “The cost is always a concern. I think that the merger will probably increase costs, but that’s just conjecture.”

Dr. Blanas, who is finishing his first year at the Institute for Family Health, is cautiously optimistic about what the
merger will bring for both his colleagues and the patients they serve. He’s hopeful for the new opportunities that working within a larger hospital system may bring despite the ever-present uncertainty, yet remains concerned about issues such as increased negotiating power for the hospital system with insurance companies leading to increased costs for patients.

“In some ways it may be beneficial because there are more training opportunities, more affiliate sites for medical students and residents to go to get training experiences.”

It is still unclear exactly how the merger will affect Dr. Blanas’s program and his patients, but the optimism remains. “It’s exciting to be in a program that is a part of the changes happening in medicine, where there’s a greater focus on keeping people healthy.”

 

Candrice HeathDr. Candrice Heath, St. Luke’s- Roosevelt 
Dr. Candrice Heath, dermatology chief resident at St. Luke’s-Roosevelt, is focusing on the benefits that CIR could bring to residents at other hospitals in the new Mount Sinai system, particularly in light of how CIR helped the residents at St. Luke’s-Roosevelt through the merger.

“Going through the merger, having CIR there has really been vital in the transition not being as painful as it could have been. The infrastructure of CIR really helps us get the institution to divulge more information to us so we can truly understand what is going on, so that we can be part of the process of change and not a group of people that change happens to.”

Dr. Heath noted that residents at other facilities are attempting to join CIR in the midst of the merger. “During this process I had a very positive experience with CIR and everything that we stand for and that we do, so it’s been very difficult to run into residents from some of the other hospitals who have been mis-educated about CIR. It is my hope that through continuing to educate our colleagues about the benefits of CIR that more of them will be able to recognize it for themselves, as independent thinkers. I hope they decide to reach out to find out more about how CIR can help to shape their residency experience in a more positive way.”

 

Olga LeibusmallDr. Olga Leibu, Beth Israel
“Lengths of stay have been emphasized much more at our hospital, which I’m sure is an issue throughout the healthcare system in general now,” says Dr. Olga Leibu, psychiatry resident at Beth Israel, one of the newly merged hospitals in the Mount Sinai system. “This has become very apparent with the Sinai entry.

“There are worries that the emphasis could be more on the financial gain of the healthcare system, rather than improvement in the quality of patient care. In particular, with decreasing length of stay, we are now focused on doing the minimal possible that we can do for patients in order to just move them on in a factory-like way.”

While Dr. Leibu notes the concern shared by residents about the stability of their programs, she also recognizes the opportunities. “We are now a part of a big academic institution. We’re one system and we will be providing the unique elements of each individual institution to the system as a whole, and hopefully growing and learning from each other. Research opportunities, diverse training options, and more educational value has been a highly emphasized goal of the merger, and will certainly be a plus if it comes to fruition, at least this is the hope.”

A strong majority of housestaff signed and filed a petition to join CIR. They recently finished hearings at the labor board to secure their right to vote to unionize. On the effort Dr. Leibu said, “The benefit of having CIR is that, as residents working on the front lines, we can at least have a voice at the table where we aren’t just bringing up issues and griping but that the administration is truly listening.”

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