Workload Concerns Fuel Labor Fight at D.C.’s Largest Health Clinic

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The front-line doctors and nurse practitioners at the District’s largest community health center say widespread staff shortages and safety concerns at clinics across the city, including the jail, have forced dozens to quit, putting their vulnerable patients at risk.

Unity Health Care workers say a grueling schedule forces them to run late or rush appointments, shortchanging patients grappling with complex issues and creating a chaotic environment that has led to 25 resignations since Jan. 1, a number the nonprofit health center disputes. Providers are scheduled to see up to 24 patients in a day, workers say.

The concerns drove about 150 Unity providers to form a union last winter, and they have accused management of unfair labor practices such as not bargaining in good faith for their first contract. They are seeking more administrative time to catch up on work, the ability to see fewer patients for longer appointments and cost of living increases, providers said.