OpEd: Cedars-Sinai deserved better treatment

Dear Cedars-Sinai Medical Center,

Thank you for being an integral part of our community.

I’m sorry that the West Hollywood City Council did not give due diligence to the special needs of the health care industry when grouping Cedars-Sinai Medical Center under the Hotel Worker Ordinance.

Cedars-Sinai deserved an exemption from the Hotel Worker/Minimum wage ordinance until the concerns raised by the Cedars-Sinai representatives were digested and discussed.

I’m sorry to watch the primary health-care institution serving our residents get ignored. How did Cedars-Sinai Medical Center get dragged into the Hotel Worker Ordinance?

I’m sorry that our City Council does not understand the unintended consequences of their decision.

And I’m sorry about the comments made by those in the community, including some readers on our comment boards, that demean and vilify the success of a medical institution which most of us are proud to have in our back yard.

At the last City Council meeting, Cedars-Sinai’s important voice was reduced to a two-minute public comment to explain the complexities of the health care system. But more shocking was how Councilmember D’Amico pushed back.

“The very suggestion that you would come to this council and ask us to exempt you from this ordinance is incomprehensible to me,” D’Amico said. But you did.

Isn’t that what public comment is for?

D’Amico was asking Cedars to update its systems to carry out an onerous rule imposed on health care workers.

If Cedars has an office in Los Angeles and a lab in West Hollywood, the driver will have to record the time in West Hollywood for extra benefits, sick leave and paid vacation.

One by one, 16,000 hospital workers will need to clock any time spent in West Hollywood. Employees will be forced to wear tracking devices to clock time. Their liberties will be compromised. It’s a rule that does not apply to UCLA Medical Center or other major hospitals in Los Angeles. Why are we classifying health-care workers who make fantastic wages and benefits with housekeepers at hotels? Using the ‘workers’ rights’ to victimize the employer and conflating workers’ rights to council rules is pretty off the point. Cedars-Sinai Medical Center pays top wages to lure top talent. They do not need the city council meddling in their business model of providing care with excess regulations.

Mayor Pro Tem Shyne followed D’Amico, Mayor Meister followed, then Councilmembers Erickson and Horvath. Cedars-Sinai’s concerns were never mentioned. They deserved better treatment, respect, and to have their concerns discussed and debated.

The collaboration between the City of West Hollywood and Cedars-Sinai Medical Center has always worked hand in hand to lift our community.

Cedars-Sinai is the largest employer in the City of West Hollywood, employing over 16,000 workers. Cedars has offices and buildings in West Hollywood and Los Angeles. The rush to push this item forward did not take into account the unique needs of Cedars Sinai, nor the costs of implementation. Zero Cedars-Sinai employees spoke to this item. Zero received notice. Instead this council vilified ‘profit’, which is less than 8% of total revenue during a peak year of Covid. Cedars deserved more time and understanding from councilmembers who know less about health care than hotels. Listen to what the Cedars-Sinai representatives told the City Council:

“Health care crises do not provide advance notice, Cedar is level one trauma center, the highest level possible, and we stand ready 24/7 to care for trauma patients, New administrative burdens from the ordinance will have the unintended consequences of limiting our ability to act quickly and effectively whether that is staffing or construction or operation of temporary facilities to care covid patients, or meeting the moment to provide comprehensive trauma care to comply with systems practices by ordinance we would have to replace systems by July 1. “

Are you listening?

Mylene Brooks, Vice President and Assistant Counsel and Labor Relations, spoke to the City Council during public comment as the ordinance was finalized. Brooks noted, “if applied to Cedars-Sinai and other health care providers the ordinance could jeopardize the safety of patients, employees and the community at large.”

Are you listening?

This item that can affect the health and welfare of patients and employees and was reduced to a public comment. There was no thoughtful analysis how this hotel worker ordinance affects the health care industry.

Brooks continued “We are a complex and dynamic healthcare system in which clinical and non-clinical service workers move about the health systems locations and community settings like parks and schools to provide care to approximately 2 million patients a year including vaccine clinics and health screenings. The ordinance would require that we manually track and record time by our clinicians and support staff who provide services in West Hollywood.

” The ordinance is inconsistent with existing state and local leave laws and thus Cedars=Sinai’s current policies. This ordinance appears to be modeled after the L.A. city-wide hotel worker minimum wage ordinance but we do not operate like a single location hotel.”

In life or death situations emergency reponder should not be burdened with ‘time spent in West Hollywood’. They should not have to park their ambulances outside our city boundaries to save cost. You can bet when Cedars-Sinai is choosing where to expand that these added regulations will discourage growing into West Hollywood.

Cedars invests in our community in so many ways. Yet, some city council members belittle a profit margin, other commenters say raise the price of the aspirin. It’s not the cost of the aspirin, it’s the cost of the nurses and doctors making a reasonable wage, $100k, of perhaps $50 per hour and it cost them 15 minutes to give you that aspirin and all the paperwork and regulations.

Thank you again Cedars Sinai for all you do. Most of us in West Hollywood appreciate you. I wish we developed policies that you could applaud as good ideas to improve Public Safety. Our City Council thinks they know how to run hospitals, hotels and the sheriff department.

Thank you Cedars-Sinai. Thank you for supporting the Disability Heath Fair that is sponsored by the Disability Advisory Board. Thank you for standing up during Covid to fight the pandemic to protect us all. Thank you for always partnering with West Hollywood during Pride and Halloween to make sure we have a quick response mechanism. Thank you for writing off millions of dollars per year providing services for those who cannot afford it. Thank you for being one of the best health care institutions in the world and for taking care of so many of us.

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Mark Patrick Reese
5 months ago

No apologies or graditute for this broken institution from the Mark Patrick Reese household. Are LA County Sheriff’s deputies or detectives moonlighting at the hospital? The reason I ask is my very disturbing experience recently. The Sheriff’s Department iligitimately and illegally detained me and attempted to admit me to a 5150 following an attempted assault complaint by a department representative. After being kept in the parking structure for 30 minutes I freed myself and self discharged. Months later I recovered the 11-13-20 medical report which revealed that the sheriff’s employees presented an impersonator after I left. He was given a… Read more »

WehoQueen
WehoQueen
5 months ago

It reminds me of how these European airlines had unions that demanded insanely high wages for glorified waitresses in the sky, and one by one, they go bankrupt, and everyone loses their great but overpaid jobs. Then, the airlines reform, and hire back some of those same former employees, at half the salary, with none of the benefits. John D’Amico, as usual, the most clueless and out of touch councilmember. We can’t be rid of his toxic personality and flawed though process fast enough.

Journalism
Journalism
5 months ago

I’m especially critical of Wehoville and Larry Block, because I hold them to a very high standard. They are our local paper. They are our journalists. We rely on them for information and accurate in-depth reporting. Journalism is the 4th estate in American democracy. So if the community is unaware, it’s because not enough reporting is being done. So please, instead of apologizing to Cedars and writing more editorials, REPORT. Set your opinions, ego and grandstanding aside and just present the facts. People don’t understand the story. We need a well informed citizenry. And you’re in the best position to… Read more »

Weho Wonder
Weho Wonder
5 months ago

Why is the City Council messing with Cedars-Sinai in the first place? This institution saves lives! It saved mine twice! It should not be lumped in with hotel workers! How many lives do they save every day???
Knock it off councilmembers! Before you go after a great hospital like Cedars, make sure you know what the hell you’re talking about!

Shawn
Shawn
5 months ago

Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t understand what the issue is. I know it’s an op/ed and not and article, but I think this op/ed would benefit from an explanation of what the issue is. It would be beneficial to start off with an explanation of the issue for people who aren’t familiar or don’t attend council meetings.

Peter Buckley
Peter Buckley
5 months ago

Good work. As individuals who live here, our voices are not being heard. So now is the time to engage Cedar-Sinai and other large entities with business interests in our neighborhoods to stop these city council lunatics in all their radical agendas including defunding the police before it’s too late.

Steve Martin
Steve Martin
5 months ago
Reply to  Peter Buckley

I have to say I was surprised that Cedar Sinai thought they could adequately explain a complicated series of issues within two or even four minutes. While I don’t necessarily want to blame the “victim” but they should have meet with the City Manager and laid out their issues and then meet with the Council members prior to the meeting. I can’t imagine any Council member not agreeing to spend half an hour with them given their long standing relationship with the community. It is not like Cedars doesn’t have a full time lobbyist. Frankly, next time they should hire… Read more »

Steve Martin
Steve Martin
5 months ago
Reply to  Larry Block

Thanks for the info. A half an hour per Council member is not a heck of a lot of time given the varying issues and impacts of this issue from scores of different businesses. Generally this is when you would expect Cedars to meet with the City Manager.

Greenacre
Greenacre
5 months ago

Tell it like it is that is why I voted for you.

BrownEyedBoy
BrownEyedBoy
5 months ago

Sepi really doesn’t like our local hospital. She & Lindsey were literally out protesting with the SEIU in-front Cedars Sinai yesterday. Great, now these dingy council members want to legislate our healthcare. Whats next?!?

Randy
Randy
5 months ago

Cedars is a world-class medical center. I’ve had the misfortunate of needing their services numerous times in the last 2 years, with a few overnight stays, and can say that their service has always been stellar.

The insurance broker for my company lives in Orange County. She told me that she drives all the way up to Cedars for any major medical services, as it is the best in Southern California.

Peter Buckley
Peter Buckley
5 months ago
Reply to  Randy

CS employees give a lot of business back to West Hollywood. They’re in the stores and restaurants at lunchtime. Good to have them here. God knows why 2 of our elected city council members would be in the streets protesting on our dime.

Randy
Randy
5 months ago
Reply to  Peter Buckley

Councilmembers are not “on our dime.” It is a part-time position, and as citizens, they are allowed to have their own opinions, and protest what they want. This doesn’t come down to all of “Cedars-Sinai is bad, or all of it is good.” Perhaps some of them think highly of Cedars, appreciate having it in the neighborhood, and yet, at the same time, want to stand with workers and their unions. Personally, I’m ambivalent, as I don’t know enough about how workers are treated at Cedars to form an opinion.

Richie
Richie
5 months ago

What do you expect from this council? Two work for non-profits, three live in rent controlled apartments, and Horvath Erickson and Shyne are looking at West Hollywood as A stepping stone. It’s unfortunate that the city manager left.

The Poisoned Petri Dish
The Poisoned Petri Dish
5 months ago
Reply to  Richie

You are correct about the stepping stone trio but unfortunately the city manager put the city on an unrealistic and unsustainable trajectory. We are left with the shards of opportunity.

Randy
Randy
5 months ago
Reply to  Richie

What stepping stones are Erickson and Shyne looking for? On their path to what? Please disclose this, if you are aware.

Alan Strasburg
Alan Strasburg
5 months ago

It was completely painful to watch D’Amico display his complete ignorance at the finances of a non-profit hospital, or any non-profit for that matter. Yes, non-profits post net income (not profit, D’Amico) that is held in reserve for future operations, poured back into the community in the form of care to the uninsured, to building capital projects (something he should be aware in his professional capacity) and in particular to research benefiting us all. It is not profit that is distributed to investors, because there are no investors. D’Amico exhibited an embarrassing naivete on a complex matter. I suggest he… Read more »

Yikes!
Yikes!
5 months ago
Reply to  Alan Strasburg

John D’Amico’s actions should be considered a bellweather to those who consider voting a serious endeavor directly impacting the lives of residents. Two of his colleagues did not fare better chiming in to his ignorance. A project manager with UCLA how did he get by with this level of ignorance having graduated from Planning Commissioner of Weho? Werky meetings with John Altschul. See all those ugly buildings? Please send him a thank you note.

Yikes!
Yikes!
5 months ago
Reply to  Yikes!

Apologies that was “ weekly” meetings with John Altschul. What ever did they discuss?

Steve Martin
Steve Martin
5 months ago
Reply to  Alan Strasburg

I am pretty supportive of labor but Cedars could have been given a six month delay so it could have time to present its’ case for being exempt or to give it time to comply. Major entities are often way less nimble in being able to make changes than relatively small businesses.

critic
critic
5 months ago

Thank you for your intelligent comments.

This will end up hurting all of us with increased medical costs.

The council members sold out to the hotel union that got them elected.

D’Amico is just plain ignorant.

We should revisit the issue of the hotel workers obscene pay raise when we are rid of the current incompetent council members.

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