Cornell University

Healthcare Transformation Project

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1199 SEIU Event: "The Clinical Laboratory Scientist in the Modern Healthcare Delivery System"

By John August

I had the privilege of giving the keynote address to several hundred union members on April 26, 2014 at an event entitled "The Clinical Laboratory Scientist in the Modern Healthcare Delivery System". It was a wonderful and timely opportunity to share deep background on the underlying drivers of the health care crisis in our nation, how the PPACA and other market forces are driving health care transformation at an accelerated pace, and how members as frontline staff can contribute to successful change.

The event was sponsored by the Institute for Continuing Education of the 1199SEIU League Training and Upgrading Fund and 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East Professional and Technical Department.  This program is part of the continuing education for tens of thousands of union members provided by the Union and its Training Funds.  The venue was the John Jay College in Manhattan, but also included live video feed and webcast to hundreds of others who could not be present.  Attendees included union members from the varied professions who are employed in and supervise the essential work of clinical laboratories in hospitals and blood banks throughout the region.

It is very significant for the community to recognize this great resource provided by the Union:  rather than force health care professionals to obtain required and optional Continuing Education Units (CEUs) for maintenance of licensure and certification on their own, the Union and its Training Funds provide these opportunities as part of their organization and mission.  This is also a very important activity of the Union which promotes identity and understanding of the importance of the union to its members, employers, and the community at large.

Participants heard lectures and presentations on new technologies in blood banks, molecular biology, and virology.  There were other important reports on the work that is spearheaded by the union and its coalition of laboratory professionals who take responsibility for the recruitment and education of the thousands of professionals who are needed in these essential fields of diagnostics and pathology.

As a representative of Cornell University and our Healthcare Transformation Project, I felt privileged to be able to share the ideas embedded in our work:  to transform labor-management dialogue in order to fully empower and engage the frontline health care workers, managers, and physicians.  Participants seemed quite engaged in this set of ideas.  As they struggle with severe shortages in their job classifications which are chronically hard-to-fill, they also are seeking ways to contribute to improvement of quality, safety, and the affordability of their foundational work to all health care delivery.

The Union is adding an important dimension to its traditional role by including education about delivery system reform as part of the professional education of its members and working with the Training Funds to provide these opportunities.  It is significant to note that 1199SEIU has been engaged in this expanded role for many decades, and we know that other unions in healthcare are following suit.

Congratulations to 1199SEIU for its leadership!

Keywords: 1199, SEIU, union building, healthcare delivery system, John August

Posted on: April 27, 2014  

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