New York’s largest hospital system is giving 45,0000 of its “heroic” workers lump sum $2,500 bonuses and a paid week off for fighting the coronavirus epidemic, it announced Monday — as Gov. Andrew Cuomo urged the feds to provide “hazard pay” to other front-line workers.
“Our dedicated staff’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic has been nothing short of heroic. Thanks to the courage and commitment of our front-line caregivers, we answered the call-in service to the patients and communities who entrust us with their care,” said Northwell Health president and CEO Michael Dowling.
Northwell’s network of hospitals include Lenox Hill on the Upper East Side, LIJ in Forest Hills and New Hyde Park, and the Staten Island University medical facilities, among others in the suburbs.
Mitchell Katz, the CEO of the city’s network of 11 public hospitals, also said last week he wants to provide bonus pay to his front-line workers.
New York Presbyterian and Mt. Sinai hospital systems have also offered bonuses to their direct care workers.
Meanwhile, Cuomo on Monday proposed that federal funds be used to reward front-line workers –including transit workers, building cleaners, day care workers as well as medical workers.
The state is broke, so the governor is depending on President Trump and Congress to cough up the dough to reward workers risking their health and lives to serve and save others.
“Pay them what they deserve. I’d say hazard pay. Give them a 50 percent bonus and I would do that now,” Cuomo said during an Albany press briefing Monday.
“Our front-line workers are heroes. They are carrying us through this crisis,” he said.
The head of the union representing the city’s paramedics and EMTs — the emergency responders who often are the first to treat COVID-19 patients and transport them to the hospital — welcomed Cuomo’s call.
The starting pay for entry-level emergency management technicians is $16 an hour — a dollar more than the minimum wage, said Oren Barzilay, president of Local 2507.
“It’s hard to survive on $16 an hour,” Barzilay said.
“That would be great,” Barzilay said the hazard pay proposal. “We’ll see.”
It’s long been a sore point that EMTs and paramedics make less than firefighters. All are employed by the FDNY.
Other state lawmakers are also pushing for hazard pay for front-line workers.
State Senator Andrew Gounardes (D-Brooklyn) sent a letter to the New York congressional delegation urging support for hazard pay in the next federal COVID relief package — and suggesting it be extended to any gig or freelance workers, including delivery workers, freelance journalists and drivers.
Senator Jessica Ramos (D-Brooklyn) and Assembly Member Aravella Simotas (D-Queens) also sent a letter to the governor and legislative leaders last week requesting that federal stimulus funds be earmarked for front-line workers.