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Morning Spew

Sure Hospitals Could Provide Better Care and Boost Staffing Levels But Then How Would They Pay Their Executives Outrageous Salaries?

The NYC nurses’ strike enters its third day, and other links to start your day.

(Scott Heins / Hell Gate)

Nurses in both the Montefiore and Mount Sinai hospital systems have been through a lot over the past few years. A pandemic raged through hospitals, sickening patients and staff, while staffing shortages stretched their ranks thin. Nurses sometimes handled more than 20 patients at a time—five times the nurse-patient ratio allowed in California (New York has a similar law, but doesn't bother to enforce it). Nurses, who saw their colleagues die during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, are often forced to provide life-saving care for patients in crowded hallways. All this while executives in the two hospital systems continued to enrich themselves, even though both hospital systems are technically "nonprofit." Is it any wonder they're on strike?

Over at Lever News, Matthew Cunningham-Cook reports that Mount Sinai CEO Kenneth Davis made at least $5.6 million in 2019, while his counterpart Philip Ozuah over at Montefiore made $7.4 million in 2020. (Montefiore also provided a chauffeur and first-class airfare for an unnamed executive in 2020.) Overall, between the two networks, at least 25 executives made over $1 million annually in either 2019 or 2020.

On top of that, Cunningham-Cook writes, "The 2017 Trump tax law mandated a 21 percent excise tax on all nonprofit compensation over $1 million annually, paid by the nonprofit themselves." Essentially, the more the executives got paid, the more of a tax liability the nonprofits had—meaning that the spending on executives was doubly compounded at the expense of money for patient care.

Since 2010, executive pay at both systems has skyrocketed, even as the situation for nurses has become all the more dire. At the same time, investments in charity care for low-income patients has plummeted; according to Lever News, Mount Sinai cut its allocation by 50 percent between 2010 and 2020.

While nurses have remained on strike, the situation inside the hospitals has become grim. Gothamist reports that fill-in nurses are being paid five times what nurses usually make to work in understaffed natal Intensive care units, and are still stretched thin. A traveling nurse filling in for the striking workers told the NY Post that a man who came into Mount Sinai Hospital "almost bled to death and had to be rushed to the [operating room]." The traveling nurse said that increased staffing would have caught the bleeding sooner—ironically, the exact issue over which nurses are currently striking.

Here are some links to start your extremely "Wednesday in January" Wednesday:

  • New York Congressmembers Ritchie Torres and Daniel Goldman filed an official complaint on Tuesday, asking the House Committee on Ethics to investigate Long Island Representative George Santos for seemingly lying about most parts of his background while running for office. The complaint requested the committee explore whether Santos broke the law when he left out key details about his personal finances when filing financial disclosures during his run for office. All this while even more allegations are coming out. We're sure the Republican-controlled House, which is hanging onto its majority by a thread, will get right on it.
  • Another cyclist has already been killed on city streets this year—this time on Ninth Street in Gowanus. The victim, a 37-year-old woman, was riding a new-generation electric Citi Bike when she was killed by a truck driver. At this part of Ninth Street, the design of which has come under criticism, the car lane and bike lane merge. It's the fourth fatality within a half-mile of the intersection since 2017, and the victim is the second Citi Bike rider to die just this week.
  • A new report from the Community Service Society found that the situation for renters in NYC during 2022 grew even more harrowing. According to CSS, 54 percent of low-income tenants saw their rents rise in 2022—a 15 percent increase over 2021. Most reported that despite the rent increase, they saw no improvements made to their buildings by their landlord. Huh, maybe our governor should do something about this!
  • Over at the New Yorker, Jennifer Gonnerman goes deep on why UPS workers in NYC and elsewhere are gearing up for a strike. (It's the hellish workplace conditions created by management to serve our addiction to speedy online shopping delivery.)
  • Twitter terminated 12 union janitors in Manhattan with zero notice. Things there appear to be going great.
  • A Manhattan judge has upheld a decision that stopped the city's taxi drivers from getting a pay bump, after Uber sued the City over the new policy, claiming the reasoning behind the raise wasn't transparent enough. Former de Blasio City Hall spokesperson and current Uber corporate stooge Freddi Goldstein said the company "welcomed the decision." (I bet!) Drivers called on the Taxi and Limousine Commission to speedily issue new rules regarding the pay raise that would be in line with what a judge would allow.
  • The Parks Department is desperately trying to avoid a redo of last year's lifeguard shortage, which left City pools and beaches with limited hours and canceled summer swim classes for children. One big change? The City is now actively trying to bypass the controversial stranglehold that DC37 has had on lifeguard hiring through its opaque testing program. Now, lifeguards will actually find out why they failed to pass the lifeguard test, and be given chances to pass it again in the future.
  • And finally, sorry Mets fans. The familiar feeling of mystified disappointment starts early this year!
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