Metropolis staff slam Well being Division for unsafe return-to-work insurance policies


About 1,000 New York Metropolis Well being Division workers have signed a letter blasting the company’s return-to-office pointers, accusing it of failing to speak inner COVID-19 circumstances and never following a “science-informed” method, together with masking and social distancing.

“It’s an enormous contradiction as a result of we’re the Well being Division,” one company employee advised The Publish.

“We, of all companies, are falling wanting implementing an evidence-based and science-informed return-to-office course of.”

“We’re not simply whiny individuals who wish to sit at dwelling in sweatpants on our laptops,” a second DOH worker stated.

“We’re all so dedicated and devoted to public well being, and so hardworking. However we would like scientific proof explaining why it’s protected to return to the workplace.”

Their eight-page Oct. 1 letter to DOH Commissioner Dave Chokshi says the company’s Queens headquarters lacks onsite COVID-19 testing and adequate provides of hand cleaning soap and sanitizer.

“We’ve repeatedly discovered hand sanitizing stations empty on the Eleventh flooring and an absence of hand cleaning soap out there at Eleventh-floor kitchen sinks, regardless of having positioned a number of service requests,” the fed-up public well being staff wrote within the letter, which was obtained by The Publish.

New York City Department of Health
One New York Metropolis Well being Division worker stated they’re “not simply whiny individuals who wish to sit at dwelling in sweatpants on our laptops.”
Alamy Inventory Picture

As well as, not all workers are adhering to masks guidelines — and as a substitute of getting supervisors implement them, staff are requested to “police one another,” which creates uncomfortable conditions, in response to the letter.

The open cubicle setting at Lengthy Island Metropolis headquarters additionally doesn’t permit for social distancing as a result of desks are nearer than six ft aside, a 3rd DOH employee advised The Publish.

The letter requests company officers “frequently present details about our precise dangers on the worksite, primarily based on out there proof,” together with the variety of workers contaminated with COVID-19 and the “date of prognosis at completely different DOHMH worksites.”

“Be clear with precise particulars on airflow, anticipated transmission price in our office settings, the rationale for eradicating the bodily distancing requirement, and why it’s thought of protected to have us eat at our desks,” it says.

The exasperated company staff additionally wish to know why the commissioner didn’t query the mayor’s resolution to power all 300,000 metropolis staff again to their desks full-time beginning Sept. 13 if it isn’t protected.

Dave Chokshi, commissioner of the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene
Chokshi stated the insurance policies had been set by the administration and the Division of Citywide Administrative Providers.
Michael Appleton

They word that Chokshi advised them throughout an inner city corridor assembly in August that productiveness hadn’t suffered from distant work throughout the pandemic — regardless of the mayor saying that municipal staff don’t get as a lot carried out at dwelling.

The Well being Division has led the town’s response to the pandemic that’s sickened over 1 million New Yorkers and killed almost 35,000 residents.

The workers argue they’ve really been much less productive since returning to the workplace final month as a result of they’re nonetheless doing digital conferences because of convention room capacities — and company computer systems lack microphones and cameras, and web connectivity is spotty.

Chokshi responded to some considerations within the letter, however stated the insurance policies had been set by the administration and the Division of Citywide Administrative Providers. Company reps didn’t instantly remark.

“Workers really feel disrespected and diminished, and deserve the dignity of transparency and direct solutions and should not getting them from company leaders,” one of many DOH staff advised The Publish.

In the meantime, workers from different metropolis companies have expressed comparable considerations concerning the de Blasio administration’s rush to return to the workplace.

Democratic mayoral candidate and outgoing Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams has stated he prefers a hybrid mannequin with some municipal staff telecommuting and others coming into the workplace.

Different metropolis officers together with Council Speaker Corey Johnson and Comptroller Scott Stringer are giving workers extra versatile schedules.


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