Editor’s Note: Melissa Tirado is Local 1549, DC37, AFSCME, Hospital Executive Vice Chair and Shop Steward at North Central Bronx Hospital
New York, NY – Public hospital clericals like me know we are first responders and essential workers. I am proud of all of our Local 1549 members — and thank them for their hard work, dedication, and for the services they provide every day.
Clericals in New York City Health and Hospitals (NYC H+H) know that we are among the first people patients see, whether it is in our lobby, emergency room, outpatient clinics, cashier stations, admitting, patient accounts or medical records. We work directly with the patients. Most of the time, within six feet of social distancing out of necessity. We also spend a good 20 minutes with incoming patients at registration.
I work in the COVID Clinic at North Central Bronx Hospital (NCB). I know from my own experience that the hardworking essential frontline clerical employees are everyday heroes helping many New Yorkers getting appointments, registering to be seen, and helping with applying for insurance.
Many patients would simply be lost in the health care system without the help of clerical workers. The work we perform helps alleviate patient stress. We do the work that NYC H+H professional staffers, including social workers, doctors and nurses, need done, but should not do, so they can better focus on serving the public. We also generate patient medical records and capture critical information, so the hospitals can obtain desperately needed funding.
Many of our fellow essential workers throughout the city come to NCB to be vaccinated. They thank the clerical staff for our services. Many other titles within the NYC H+H system realize the importance of the clerical staff — especially when it comes to getting an appointment to be vaccinated in an overwhelming system where appointments are still scarce.
It’s sad that frontline clerical workers in Health and Hospitals have been overlooked and not acknowledged as heroes, despite the hardships and health risks they endure. But that has not stopped Local 1549 members from continuing to do their jobs during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.