As we reported last year, Brooklyn’s healthcare infrastructure is undergoing a major transformation as Brookdale University Hospital Medical Center, Interfaith Medical Center and Kingsbrook Jewish Medical Center unite into one system. The new entity, called One Brooklyn Health System (OBHS), was created under a plan conceived and funded by New York State to increase access to quality healthcare in central and northeastern Brooklyn. In 2017, 1199SEIU formed the Brooklyn Workers’ Council to ensure that healthcare workers have a voice in the development, implementation and success of OBHS. The Council, supported by the Labor Management Project (LMP), has come together to develop a charter and to learn about coalition-building.
The Council consists of Union officers, four elected 1199SEIU members from each of the three participating OBHS hospitals, as well as four members from two collaborating hospitals, Wyckoff and Brooklyn Hospital. It communicates with 1199SEIU delegates and members about healthcare system changes, advocates for Union principles and the needs of the Brooklyn community, and helps create partnerships between hospital management, workers and the community. The Council’s charge is to improve communication among hospital employees and between hospital staff and their Union leaders, and to help create community coalitions within the communities around their hospitals.
The LMP has supported the Brooklyn Workers’ Council in a number of ways. LMP consultants helped the Council develop a charter outlining the purpose and functioning of the group. They plan and facilitate monthly Council meetings, provide training on effective communication and relational coordination and assist in the coordination of resources to support the Council. In addition, LMP consultants support biweekly Union executive strategy committee meetings to ensure that strategic alignment is maintained between Union leadership and the Council.
In May 2018, the LMP facilitated a two-day retreat to provide the One Brooklyn union team with education on coalition building, communicating with stakeholders and team-building. Participants also gained a deeper understanding of the internal and external barriers to quality, affordable, accessible healthcare in Brooklyn. The group produced community asset maps and action plans that will guide the work moving forward. Members came away with a renewed commitment to work together to improve the health of Brooklyn healthcare organizations and the Brooklyn community.