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Over 400 Physicians From Delaware’s ChristianaCare Move To Unionize

— "This is a movement that needs to happen in medicine," one physician said

More than 400 physicians from Delaware's Christiana Hospital, Wilmington Hospital, and Middletown Free-standing Emergency Department -- all part of the ChristianaCare health system -- filed to unionize with Doctors Council SEIU Local 10MD.

"If successful, this will be the first physician union in Delaware and the first union of any kind at ChristianaCare," Doctors Council SEIU said in an announcement of the filing, which pointed to the ongoing corporatization of medicine as driving the physicians' efforts.

Some of the specific concerns that physicians detailed in regard to their filing included understaffing and inadequate resources, corporate influence on medical decision making, limited input in matters affecting patient care and physician safety and autonomy, and moral injury caused by pressure to place profit over patients.

Roshan Modi, MD, a radiologist at ChristianaCare, told MedPage Today that he believes "the theme has really been profits before patients across all departments. We're just being asked to do more and more with less and less."

"Physician morale is at an all-time low because we want to care for our neighbors, we want to care for our community, but we're not given the opportunity or the adequate resources to do so appropriately," Modi said.

That sentiment is hardly an isolated one amid a nationwide movement that continues to grow.

Just this week, some 150 primary care providers from Oregon-based Legacy Health announced that they are planning to unionize with the Pacific Northwest Hospital Medicine Association, a hospitalist-specific labor union affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers.

Earlier this month, a group of about 150 physicians and advanced practice providers at Washington, D.C.'s Unity Health Care, who unionized with the Union of American Physicians and Dentists last December, gathered to announce the filing of unfair labor practice charges against Unity with the National Labor Relations Board.

Other recent efforts have included a strike by emergency medicine physicians contracted through the private equity-backed staffing firm TeamHealth to work at Ascension St. John Hospital in Detroit following their unionization last year.

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Overall, physicians at ChristianaCare and other facilities are part of a growing comradeship aimed at improving patient care and working conditions through a resurgence in organizing efforts.

"We're hoping that we can be a blueprint for other hospitals," Modi said. "This is not unique with ChristianaCare. We all are experiencing the same things, and as a result, patients are experiencing the same things."

"This is a movement that needs to happen in medicine to push back against the corporatization of healthcare," he noted.

A spokesperson for ChristianaCare said in an emailed statement that, "we are proud of our physicians, who deliver world-class care while serving our patients and our community with love and excellence."

"We believe that continuing to have a direct relationship with physicians is an essential component of our continued shared success," the spokesperson added. "We have received the petition from Doctors Council SEIU Local 10MD and recognize the right of all employees to vote on whether or not they want a union to represent them."

Jennifer Henderson joined MedPage Today as an enterprise and investigative writer in Jan. 2021. She has covered the healthcare industry in NYC, life sciences and the business of law, among other areas.

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