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Montefiore in the News

March 7, 2012

Partnership with Labor Union featured in Cornell University report: front-line staff improves health care services and reduces costs

New York City, NY (March 7, 2012) - The partnership between the Contact Center at Montefiore Medical Center's Care Management Company (CMO) and 1199 SEIU United Healthcare Workers East is featured in a report released by the Healthcare Transformation Project at Cornell University's School of Industrial and Labor Relations in New York City. The report, entitled "How Labor-Management Partnerships Improve Patient Care, Cost Control and Labor Relations," includes a case study on how the labor-management initiative at Montefiore has demonstrated increased access to health care services and a reduction in health care costs.

Montefiore's Contact Center employs about 100 clerical workers and provides centralized customer service support to the CMO by handling member inquiries regarding billing, scheduling of appointments and obtaining prescriptions. The labor-management initiative produced an environment of trust, respect and open communication that contributed to creating the highest level of customer service.

According to the report, the labor-management partnership at Montefiore has resulted in improved patient satisfaction, quicker patient access to primary care physicians and specialists, decreased staff turnover and a reduction in costs per call. The initiative also enabled new opportunities for staff career advancement.

"Partnerships between labor and management are extremely important to create a health care system that Americans deserve," said Steven M. Safyer, MD, President and CEO of Montefiore Medical Center. "With a dialogue of mutual respect and understanding, we can deliver high quality, cost effective and coordinated care that is centered on the patients and their families."

"We are extremely proud of our strong labor-management partnership with Montefiore Medical Center," said Estela Vazquez, Executive Vice President, 1199 SEIU United Healthcare Workers East. "As the first hospital the union negotiated a contract with over 50 years ago, the relationship between the administration and its workers was built on respect and recognition of the valuable contributions of our members in the healthcare delivery system. That relationship continues to this day as we work together to achieve high quality healthcare for patients in a changing environment."

"Montefiore Medical Center has shared a 53-year partnership with 1199 SEIU, and throughout the decades, we have valued the counsel of employees who have the most intimate knowledge of every day work processes and what solutions might be most viable," said Stephen Kulovits, director of Customer Service at Montefiore's CMO. "Labor-management partnerships are essential to engaging all staff in productive dialogue to enhance the way in which patient care is provided."

Recently, Montefiore was one of 32 health care organizations in the country named by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services as a Pioneer Accountable Care Organization, the first federally-sponsored accountable care program that incentivizes providers to improve health outcomes for patients while also controlling costs. "Reforming our health care system to be accessible and provide high-quality services has been at the core of many recent national and state initiatives," said Peter Lazes director of Cornell's Healthcare Transformation Project. "Montefiore Contact Center's union-management partnership provides a roadmap for how to improve access to healthcare services and control health costs."

Montefiore Medical Center was the first hospital in New York City to officially recognize 1199 SEIU in 1959. The union had led a campaign to organize New York City hospital employees to achieve collective bargaining rights, improving both healthcare benefits and wages for the employees.

More information about the report and about Cornell is available by contacting Peter Lazes at or at