LOS ANGELES—The following is a statement by the collective of doctors and medical providers employed by the AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) who are forming a union with the National Union of Healthcare Workers (NUHW).
“We want to get back to the business of practicing medicine with a professional and caring approach that’s conducive for building doctor-patient rapport in our healthcare centers. It’s paramount that we engage patients diagnosed with HIV on their journey of care, and use the best talent and resources available to us for their retention in care and treatment for a long and healthy life.
“We are healers! Because of the special needs of the HIV/AIDS community, we want to provide individualized care, not big box, assembly-line medicine. At the core of forming a union with National Union of Healthcare Workers (NUHW), our goal is to improve working conditions and protect the integrity of patient care. In protecting our patients, we must raise our voices and concerns.
“AHF board of directors and executive management says that management employees are leading the current organizing effort. This is false. At the root of the petition is the lawful definition and role of a supervisor, according to the National Labor Relations Board. Although some medical providers at AHF carry a title that would suggest a management role, the title is in name only. The reality is, AHF medical providers have no power – that is, not to hire, transfer, suspend, lay off, recall, promote, discharge, assign, reward or discipline other employees, or responsibly to direct them.
“In no way, has anyone coerced or harassed employees to join the union. These bright, talented medical providers have made their own decisions freely, based upon the working conditions at AHF. It’s their free will to support and join the National Union of Healthcare Workers.”
TOP FIVE REASONS WHY AHF MEDICAL PROVIDERS ARE FORMING A UNION:
1. To have a voice in the policies of patient care. The medical providers of AHF do not have any input in the implementation of new policies, affecting patient care. AHF is top heavy with health administrators with no medical background who are driven by numbers, increasing productivity, and cutting corners for profit margins.
2. To protect the integrity of patient care. Due to double workloads, understaffing, and high employee turnover, AHF medical providers are forced to see more patients in a day without the luxury of a “bedside manner” or patient engagement, which may lead to a compromised quality of care.
3. To get back to the basics, and focus on AHF’s mission of providing “cutting-edge medicine and advocacy.” The medical practitioners take great pride in their work, and want to restore the academic reputation of AHF by attracting, hiring and retaining the best and brightest medical professionals, dedicated to caring for persons living with HIV/AIDS.
4. To meet the changing needs of HIV/AIDS patients with the uncertainty of Obamacare looming. There’s some anxiety in the air about the additional stress that will come with the implementation of Obamacare in October. Given the complexities of the upcoming “exchange system” within Obamacare, it’s imperative that enough benefits counselors are hired and trained on the complexities of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which is necessary to practice effectively and efficiently.
5. To restore the principle of “valuing employees,” a core principle of AHF. AHF has failed
in keeping talented medical providers in their positions. The abysmal turnover rate has compromised patient care because there’s a lack of consistency in building a doctor-patient rapport at the healthcare centers. For persons diagnosed with HIV, their retention in care and treatment is the key to living a long and healthy life. A happy and satisfied medical practitioner means healthier patients who want to visit their doctor and engage in their own treatment.