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Safety and Health Dept.

Members pack patient safety conference


DC 37 members are shown the latest in safety equipment to assist patients at the Safe Patient Handling Educational Conference, held at union headquarters on June 2.
The union’s Safety and Health Dept. held an all-day conference for public hospital workers on safe patient handling at DC 37 headquarters on June 2.

The conference is the latest in the union’s campaign to raise awareness ab0ut the personal safety of workers who move patients during physical therapy.

After a series of trainings held at DC 37 headquarters and at several NYC Health+Hospitals facilities, the union’s campaign culminated with the June 2 educational conference.

A packed house of more than 300 people, mostly hospital workers from locals 420 and 768, attended the event.

After opening remarks by DC 37 Associate Director Oliver Gray and the union’s Safety and Health Director Guile Mejia, a lively panel discussed the importance of safe patient training and raising awareness of workers’ right to protect themselves from work-related injuries.

The panel included experts in the field of ergonomics and safe patient handling, along with Municipal Employees Hospital Union Local 420 President Carmen Charles.

Arlette Loeser, director of the Ergonomics and Injury Prevention Program at Mount Sinai, said, “If you are questioning the demand of a physical task, get help.” Later, she advised that training with patient handling equipment be quarterly.

Dr. Katia Costa-Black, the senior manager of ergonomic services at NYU’s Langone Medical Center, explained the importance of safely handling patients, and also discussed ergonomic designs that help prevent worker and patient injury.

Charles pointed out that workers need to question and stand up for their rights if management does not provide proper equipment and staffing.

“You protect you,” Charles said. “If you have to get help, get help. And if you do not get the necessary assistance, call the director. It’s not just about you; it is also about the patient. You have to think of your safety and the health of the patient.”

The program continued with a presentation by Keith Wrightson, a health and safety specialist with DC 37’s parent union, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.

After the panel, attendees toured rooms where medical equipment manufacturers and vendors demonstrated many devices and tools that help hospital workers handle patients safely.

“We worked hard to ensure that our members were able to attend the meeting, ensuring that the city hospitals give those interested release time to attend,” said DC 37 Safety and Health Director Guille Mejia. “This is an amazing response by our members.”