Doctors rally at Jacobi Hospital to demand better contract and working conditions

Council Member Kristy Marmorato (center in navy dress) joined dozens of physicians who rallied outside Jacobi Medical Center on June 14, 2024 to demand a better contract.
Council Member Kristy Marmorato (center in navy dress) joined dozens of physicians who rallied outside Jacobi Medical Center on June 14, 2024 to demand a better contract.
Photo Emily Swanson

Dozens of Doctors Council SEIU members rallied outside Jacobi Medical Center on Friday to demand a better contract, citing high levels of burnout and turnover among their ranks. The members are locked in a contract dispute with NYC Health + Hospitals (H+H) and affiliates including Mount Sinai and NYU. 

Jacobi boasts a Level 1 trauma center, hyperbaric chambers for burn and smoke inhalation victims, a stroke center and even specialized treatment for snake bite victims. But those who rallied on June 14 said they are facing unacceptably high rates of burnout and turnover — and that patient care is suffering as a result. 

The physicians were joined by City Council Member Kristy Marmorato — who worked in health care for 24 years prior to her council election — and state Sen. Nathalia Fernandez, who chairs the Committee on Substance Use Disorders. 

Despite the challenges facing the doctors, Marmorato told the Bronx Times she is confident they will do whatever is required to provide excellent care for patients.

“They have the education and experience behind them” and are fully deserving of a better contract, she said.

“Just give the doctors what they want,” Fernandez addded.

Several physicians spoke of how patients and doctors alike suffer the harmful effects of long shifts, frequent turnover, some delayed medical procedures and long wait times. The entire rheumatology department at Jacobi had to be closed due to understaffing. 

Dr. Joaquin Morante, who grew up in the Bronx and works at Jacobi, spoke about the need to invest in the public hospital system. Photo Emily Swanson

Dr. Joaquin Morante, a Bronx native who works at Jacobi, said he always wanted a job in the H+H system to serve his community. 

“Caring for the Bronx has been a lifelong mission and an honor,” he said — but given the current conditions, “How can I recommend to my family members to come to Jacobi when the possibility of having the same doctor is in doubt due to the constant loss of talent?” 

Following the rally, he told the Bronx Times that these issues are not unique to Jacobi or the Bronx but “systemic within the public hospital system.” To take the message citywide, Doctors Council SEIU is holding two more rallies next week, June 18 at Elmhurst Hospital Center in Queens and June 20 at South Brooklyn Health. 

For Bronxites, Morante said the already-low baseline for public health is now getting worse. Since many people had to delay care during the pandemic, all hospitals are seeing more and more patients with worse outcomes, Morante said. 

The number of unique in-person patients coming through the H+H system rose by over 100,000 from 2022 to 2023, according to the Mayor’s Management Report.

Dr. Steve Hahn, who has worked at Jacobi since 1981, said that current hospital leadership is not entirely to blame for current staffing shortages.

“They inherited this problem,” he said, adding that they must be held accountable for resolving the issue quickly. “We are here to bargain for the health of our city,” said Hahn. 

Several physicians called it hypocritical for the city to applaud doctors during the pandemic while leaving them without fair working conditions now. 

“We are hailed as heroes as long as we don’t ask for what is just,” Morante said.

Reach Emily Swanson at or (646) 717-0015. For more coverage, follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram @bronxtimes