New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

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Letters to the Editor: “NYU Must Compensate Its Medical Workers Fairly”

Echo Chen
(Illustration by Echo Chen)

Editor’s Note: The following article contains all the Letters to the Editor that the aforementioned article has received. For the sake of transparency, we will update this article if we receive additional Letters to the Editor for this piece. For the sake of concision and consistency, we have removed the salutations and valedictions of each letter, while retaining the core text of each letter, the author and their positions, unedited, as we received them. 

The most recent Letter to the Editor in this piece was received on April 20, 2020, 10:06 p.m.

The opinion piece, “NYU Must Compensate Its Medical Workers Fairly” published on April 17th contains multiple inaccuracies. Every patient who required a ventilator received one. All workers were provided with PPE contrary to the author’s opinion. While the pay raise offered to  medical residents was small in absolute dollars, this was done at a time when the medical center is losing millions of dollars per month and in the face of cutbacks to discretionary spending. It is hard to see how such a pay raise could be considered a PR move rather than a genuine expression of gratitude in the face of the extraordinary stresses on the finances of the hospital at this time. I would suggest Ms. Ramachandran consider the issues more deeply before publishing her opinions in the future.

David Charytan, MD MSc

Chief, Nephrology Division

NYU Langone Medical Center

April 20, 2020, 10:06 p.m. 

I am privileged and honored to serve as a surgeon and a leader at NYU Langone Health System. The letter you published by one of your editorial staff was profoundly inaccurate, as well as misleading, and frankly damaging to the thousands of dedicated  and heroic people that I am proud to call my colleagues across all parts of our organization; doctors, nurses, technicians, janitors, transporters, administrative staff and countless others. This institution has served the city and its staff in an exemplary way thru [sic] this crisis.  We started preparations well before the first patient arrived, and continued to lead the country in our response to it. We have always had appropriate PPE for all our staff in all settings. Contrary to what many centers have experienced, we have never lacked for equipment or supplies to protect our staff and treat our patients.  We maintained the highest standards of care and innovated thru [sic] the crisis at every level. 

It is not just a job for us to rise in the face of challenges like this, it is our oath.  We have always done it, whether it was facing HIV/AIDS before anyone knew what it was, or SARS, MERS, Ebola, or disasters man-made or natural.  Our colleagues answer to a higher calling in the care of their fellow man and woman, it is reflected in their work every day. Our commitment to them is demonstrated by the fact that we have not furloughed or fired anyone despite unprecedented losses, many staff unable to work, and an unclear path out of this crisis.  This is the same commitment we demonstrated thru Hurricane Sandy for all our employees. 

One of our residents wrote to me recently, “First of all, I think the department has done an absolutely outstanding job keeping the trainees up to speed on how NYU is handling COVID. The daily e-mails and such keep us looped in to the current situation and my colleagues at other places do not have as much transparency. … no doubt we are putting our health at risk but that is an unfortunate part of the job in my opinion. … Thank you for everything you all do, I simply wanted to share those thoughts.”

This is a small example of the professionalism that embodies our residents and fellows, who are trainees in our programs.  With all the deployments and reassignments we have always maintained work hour compliance, and actively monitored their well being.  They in turn have risen to the challenge and exhibited dedication, excellence, and leadership. I am humbled by them. Your editorial does all of us a dis-service in the mis-characterization of a truly world class institution.

This was not well researched, nor verified, and is little more than sensationalism and propaganda.  To paraphrase our former senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, while everyone maybe entitled to their own opinion, they are not entitled to their own facts…  yours were sorely lacking here

Paresh C. Shah MD FACS

Surgeon in Chief

NYU Langone Health

April 20, 2020, 9:04 p.m.

As the Vice President of Perioperative Services at NYU Winthrop Hospital, I am outraged by your accusations of malfeasance aimed at NYU Langone Health Senior Administration. Speaking on behalf of my staff  inclusive of Registered Nurses, Surgical Techs, Nursing Assistants, Environmental Cleaners and Secretaries who have been deployed to assist in Covid ICUs, Acute Covid units,

Proning teams (fact check that term-WSN), runners and as administrative support to care for patients in unimaginably desperate circumstances. 

I find it reprehensible that you would publish such an irresponsible representation of an organization that supports the safety of both patients and staff every day. Since the beginning of the Covid pandemic, the staff has been provided with all the proper PPE needed on a daily basis. No one ever had to bring in their own gowns, gloves, masks or face shields. In fact, NYU Langone faculty and researchers developed plans to manufacture PPE and already distributed a new personal protective face shield for healthcare workers on the front line. I’m guessing that you didn’t read that article. 

Most notably, our Supply Chain Management team has continually met the enterprise wide needs for PPE throughout the entire course of the pandemic. To be clear, our front line staff and, in fact, the entire hospital staff were never without PPE…EVER! 

In closing, your inaccurate publication demonstrates one important fact ….that your sources did not validate the misinformed content of this muckraking article. NYU Winthrop Hospital is proud to belong to a world class organization known as NYU Langone Health.

Rita E. Roberts RN CNOR

Vice President- Perioperative/Procedural Services

NYU Winthrop Hospital

April 20, 2020, 7:44 p.m.

I would like to respond to the NYU article regarding residents and hazard pay.

As a nurse working in the NYU Langone Health system I am aware that there is a national shortage on PPE and everyone is doing what they can to secure supplies. Contrary to what is written in this article, NYU has put plans in place to ensure that frontline staff members receive their PPE equipment to care for Covid patients. As a frontline staff member during this crisis my focus is on providing care for my patients and I strongly believe that NYU has provided me the tools to do so.  

If you have any questions please feel free to reach out.

Patrick Yam, BSN, RN

Nursing Quality Specialist

April 2020, 6:53 p.m.

I read with dismay the opinion piece by Asha Ramachandran published on April 17 entitled, “NYU Must Compensate its Medical Workers Fairly”.  At NYU Winthrop Hospital on Long Island, my department is home to 85 residents and 64 fellows, all of whom have performed with the highest degree of professionalism during the COVID-19 pandemic, consistent with their oath as physicians.  As faculty, we do not think of residents as the “lowest position in the physician hierarchy” but rather consider them as junior colleagues for whom we carry a sacred responsibility to teach and protect from harm – also consistent with our oath and traditions as physicians.  The working conditions and treatment of our residents as characterized by Ms. Ramachandran do not in any way reflect the reality of the experience at NYU Winthrop. 

To physicians of my generation, training as residents and fellows at the dawn of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in New York City in the early 1980s defined a standard of clinical care, compassion and scientific inquiry, imparted by our teachers, which formed us as physicians and resulted in the understanding and control of the disease during our own careers.  The COVID-19 pandemic is this generation’s defining moment. Our younger colleagues are rising to the occasion brilliantly. Their intelligence, energy and compassion will bring us to a greater understanding and ultimate control of this terrible disease of our time.

Bruce Polsky, MD, MACP, FIDSA

Professor and Chairman, Department of Medicine

Associate Dean, Faculty

April 20, 2020, 5:54 p.m.

As the Director of Nursing Quality and Professional Practice at NYU Langone- Brooklyn, safety and quality is the number one priority of our patients, their families and our staff, each and every day.  In response to the opinion that, “staff are put in precarious positions and lack PPE,” is inaccurate.

We follow CDC guidelines and educate our staff on proper use and conservation of PPE, making it available whenever needed. 

Teamwork is outstanding, we support our staff, and share a common goal to ensure the best care to our patients and their families. It is an honor to be part of this extraordinary organization. 

Karen DeLorenzo MSN, RN, CHCR

Director Nursing Quality, Professional Practice, Magnet, Recruitment & Retention

April 20, 2020, 5:50 p.m.

As the Assistant Director for Infection Control, I must say that this “opinion piece” written by one of your editors is extremely disconcerting.  From the beginning, we have been following the CDC guidelines to the letter. The appropriate PPE has always been available to all employees; this includes surgical masks, respirators, gowns, gloves and face shields.  No employee, whether on the front line or in a supporting role, has been denied PPE. The staff were all educated in how to conserve PPE so there would be enough to last to the end of the crisis, which was a responsible and smart thing to do.  NYU has worked very hard to keep their employees safe in the midst of a very bad situation. Any claims to the contrary are just not true. 

Elizabeth Malone, RN

Asst Director, Infection Prevention and Control

April 20, 2020, 5:20 p.m.

As a nurse manager at NYU Langone Hospital- Brooklyn, I interact with all levels of staff including over 100 travel nurses who have come to assist us in this time of crisis.  I have never had any complaints of lack of personal protective equipment or even of staff feeling unsafe in any of our environments. As judicious members of the healthcare community we are always attempting to conserve PPE, but I have never turned down a request from any staff member for a new mask, gown, or face shield. It is my job as a manager to keep my staff and patients safe and providing the proper PPE is a top priority.

Elizabeth Douglas, MSN RN CCRN NE-BC

Nurse Manager SICU, NeuroICU & CC Float Team

Co-Chair Organ Donor Council

April 20, 2020, 5:17 p.m.

As a Senior Director of Nursing here at NYU Langone Health  I can honestly attest that this information has been wrongly reported.  I have made rounds throughout the hospital on a daily basis and all staff have always been provided with appropriate PPE to safely care for patients.  I personally have gone to retrieve additional PPE so staff would always have the adequate supplies they needed. No one was ever denied any necessary equipment or PPE.  NYU Langone Health as a leader in health care has always put their patients and staff first beyond anything else. We continue to follow CDC recommendations for the use of PPE during this pandemic and remain dedicated to the health and safety of our patient and staff.

I am proud to be part of the NYU Langone Health team during this pandemic crisis.


Senior Director

Women and Children’s Services

April 20, 2020, 5:11 p.m.

NYU Langone Health has provided heroic and extraordinary care to our fellow New Yorkers during this pandemic.  The criticism that was attributed to NYU Langone is false and misleading information. As a member of the hospital leadership team at the Brooklyn campus, I have experienced  firsthand from rounding on units – engagement and most importantly discussions about staffing, PPE, equipment and needs. We have communicated directly with our staff on the status of our PPE levels and to alleviate any concerns by letting staff know that we were in fact receiving shipments daily. We also continue to communicate the importance of PPE conservation during this pandemic and provided clear guidelines around its use. We will  never lose sight of the value of our staff and will continue to support them as they continue to be the front line providers in this pandemic. 

Jeanne Lee

Vice President

Neurology, Neurosurgery, Psychiatry and Palliative Care

NYU Langone Hospital – Brooklyn

April 20, 2020, 5:05 p.m.

I’m disappointed that this article was allowed to go to press. 

From the first statement in the piece is factually inaccurate:

“New York City hospitals like NYU Langone Medical Center are severely lacking in necessary protective equipment, staff and ventilators.” 

NYU has worked tirelessly to provide our providers with PPE and has spent millions of dollars to do so.  The physicians under my team have never gone without necessary PPE and no patients have gone without ventilators due to lack of availability or staffing. NYU is a physician-led organization working extremely hard to protect our providers and patients during a global health crisis and baseless accusations such as this are an unnecessary distraction.

Frank M. Volpicelli MD

Chief Of Medicine, NYU Langone Hospital – Brooklyn

Assistant Professor of Medicine

April 20, 2020, 4:53 p.m.

As the chief medical officer at NYU Langone Brooklyn I am forced to respond to inaccuracies in the editorial by Asha Ramchandranthat appeared in the Washington Square News.

I want to say how much we value and care for all of our employees. In order to protect our staff we have undertaken multiple measures to decrease risk to our staff. First and foremost we have instituted many environmental changes. These have included extensive work, without sparing any cost, to create negative pressure units throughout the hospital. These environmental controls dramatically lessen risk to all in the area.

We have made all PPE available to our staff in accordance with DOH and CDC guidelines. Additionally, hospital leadership rounds on all units daily to make sure all staff have adequate PPE available to them.

With regards to pay to our employees or any threats that they may lose their jobs, that is an untrue accusation with no merit. No one in any leadership position has ever threatened people’s employment were they to advocate on their behalf. In fact, we actively seek out the feedback from our staff and meet with them regularly to address any of their concerns. Despite tremendous financial losses that we have sustained over this period, we have continued to pay all our staff. 

I am proud to work among the outstanding employees at NYU Langone and want to reemphasize that we spare nothing to maintain the safety of our staff. The editorial was completely inaccurate and not based on any objective facts. The spreading of false information does a disservice to all and creates a false impression that the staff are not valued and protected.

I trust that your staff will address the inaccuracies of what you have published and ensure that any published statements are verified before publication.

Joseph M. Weisstuch, MD

Chief Medical Officer, NYU Langone Hospital – Brooklyn

Clinical Associate Professor of Medicine, NYU Grossman School of Medicine

April 20, 2020, 4:21 p.m.

I am writing to express my disagreement with the portrayal of NYU Langone in the recent opinion piece “NYU Must Compensate Its Medical Workers Fairly.”  This brief and minimally detailed article portrays a work environment of shortages and intimidation. It appears to paint NYU Langone in a general light at a time when I am personally very proud of the organization’s resilience while facing  a substantial need. I find such publication disappointing and unhelpful to our common cause.

Mark E. Nunnally, MD, FCCM


Depts. of Anesthesiology, Perioperative Care and Pain Medicine,

Neurology, Surgery and Medicine

Director, Adult Critical Care Services

April 20, 2020, 4:15 p.m.

I have been to the floors of NYU Langone Tisch Hospital where we are caring for patients afflicted with COVID-19 – all the floors… with hundreds of patients. 

We are truly at the epicenter of this crisis and have increased the number of patients in the medical Intensive Care Units more than 10-fold. The safety of our teams of front line staff – from the nurses to respiratory therapists to attending physicians to Graduate Medical Education Trainees – have been paramount in our response to caring for these sick, vulnerable and complicated patients.  The altruism and professionalism displayed by every member of these teams truly displays the best of NYU Langone. Terms like “exploitation and suspicion” not only fail to grasp the enormity of the impact of the pandemic but trivialize the care and efforts of these heroes. While the point of the opinion piece nominally discusses compensation of one segment of our community, it devalues the efforts of all of them

Brian P. Bosworth, MD FACG

Chief of Medicine, NYU Langone Health Main Campus, Tisch Hospital

Professor of Medicine

NYU Grossman School of Medicine

April 20, 2020, 4:02 p.m. 

It is very distressing to see an article like “NYU Must Compensate Its Medical Workers Fairly” actually published. 

We are extremely proud of the care we provide at NYU Winthrop Hospital and the strong culture of supporting our staff.  At no point have I experienced staff working without appropriate PPE and no patient has ever been denied the care they required. 

My strong suggestion is to check your facts and retract this misleading article.

Al Glover

Senior Vice President, Hospital Operations

NYU Langone Health

NYU Winthrop Hospital

April 20, 2020, 3:30 p.m.

As Dean of the NYU Long Island School of Medicine, the sister medical school of Grossman School of Medicine, under New York University, I am very disturbed  by the factually incorrect and misleading editorial published on Friday in your newspaper. Overseeing the medical student and Graduate Medical education program at this medical school at NYU Winthrop Hospital campus of NYU Langone Health, I have an intimate knowledge of the clinical and educational activities taking place at our medical center. The acts of clinical care being exercised by all of our caring health professionals at all levels are exemplary 24/7, and your accusation that they have been improperly provided appropriate PPE is simply not true. In addition, the accusation that the residents have not been fairly compensated for their extraordinary efforts is equally false.

In this current COVID 19 crisis, this medical center is indeed facing challenges on a number of different fronts. Suitable numbers of health providers have often been limited, and the continued increasing degree of illness in our admitted patients have required extra efforts by all individuals at all levels. The Administrative and clinical leadership at NYU Long Island School of Medicine, NYU Langone Health System, and NYU Winthrop Hospital have responded to all of the challenges with the determination to provide the best care to all patients seen, and to be sure that all providers, including residents and nurses, are provided all the PPE required to keep them safe, healthy, and out of harms way as they provide the necessary care. In my ongoing discussions with resident leaders, chief residents and those at all levels, I am constantly re-assured that this is the case. 

I have also personally been responsible for placing 22 new, early graduated students into the clinical setting, and in our conversation several days ago, they re-assured me that they absolutely have sufficient PPE to complete the tasks they have been given responsibility for.  

In addition to this provision of PPE for safe and complete care, the leadership of NYU Langone Health system, of which NYU Winthrop Hospital is a pivotal campus, have committed to increase the compensation for all participating residents in their enormously important work caring for COVID 19 patients.  Other benefits have been offered as well, including providing hotel reimbursement to those not already being provided housing, additional counseling support, childcare support where necessary and expansion of many benefits to assist with resident needs during this difficult time.   

In surveys and conversations with Medical Schools across the country led by the American Association of Medical Colleges, our house staff, students and faculty have received the same, if not more benefits than most other medical schools, and the overwhelming majority, including those states being hit critically hard by this crisis as well, have not offered “hazard pay” as referenced in the article.  We are overwhelmingly proud of our house staff who are providing care as bound by the Hippocratic Oath during these extremely trying times and of our faculty who lead by example, many of whom are fulfilling roles outside of their traditional disciplines to support the care of these patients without expectation of additional opportunistic monetary gains, and at the risk of sacrificing their regular practices and revenue generating work.     

As a Pediatrician for over 40 years with many years overseeing Medical Student and Resident education, I am enormously impressed with the responsiveness and caring attitude of leadership here to our most valued providers. In my numerous conversations with Deans of medical Schools across the country, and especially throughout New York State,  they reflect on their respect and admiration for the efforts of NYU Langone leaders in providing the best support for their resident physicians. I share the dismay being expressed by my leadership colleagues to this factually incorrect and seriously misleading editorial, and urge that there be a retraction immediately. This misinformation is both damaging to the efforts of everyone during this crisis and detracts from the truly appreciative response that should be forthcoming every day for the leadership required to rise to successfully challenge and overcome the enormous obstacles this Covid19 crisis presents. 

Steven P. Shelov, MD, MS

Founding Dean

NYU Long Island School of Medicine

April 20, 2020, 3:07 p.m.

I would like to take the opportunity to address the opinion recently expressed by Asha Ramchandran in the Washington Square News.

In short, there is no basis to her assertion that the staff of NYU Langone Medical Center has been placed in, “the most precarious position” during the response to the Covid-19 pandemic. From the very beginning of this crisis, the Medical Center responded by accommodating and treating the surge of Covid-19 patients with best medical care, while maintaining staff safety as a cornerstone of our medical response. Far from feeling we have been subject to “exploitation” we, the staff at NYU Langone – Brooklyn, feel proud and privileged to be able to continue to provide service to our patients.

The response by the staff and leadership of NYU Langone has been nothing short of heroic. Staff have stepped up and into the frontline to care for the influx of patients ill with Covid-19. We have shifted roles to accommodate the volume of Covid patients and we have created new workflows to support what has functionally become a hospital almost entirely devoted to the care of critically ill patients with highly contagious, extremely complex, and poorly understood respiratory disease. This includes everyone from the frontline (housekeepers, support techs, nurses, residents, senior physicians) to the highest levels of leadership who have had to redirect the entire enterprise as the first wave of patients began to pour in. While I have continued to do a small volume of emergency surgery, I have been given the opportunity to support my medical colleagues by directly caring for these profoundly ill patients while personal risk has been kept to a minimum.

I have described to friends and family the effort to reconfigure the physical hospital setting and the attendant workflows as akin to an airplane changing course, while refueling in midair, as passengers and crew disembark and new crew and passengers board. The hospital has been entirely re-engineered to minimize the spread of airborne disease. The entire workforce has been redeployed to care for a hospital devoted to the care of this new illness. And, as supply chains across the country have been disrupted and overwhelmed, NYU Langone has managed to stay ahead of diminishing materials to ensure appropriate PPE for all staff.

I am incredibly proud to be a part of NYU’s response to this crisis. We, the staff of NYU Langone Medical Center, have never been silenced. On the contrary, we have been guided and protected while we fight this disease. Far from being exploited, we are blessed to be able to safely continue to serve those who are most in need.

Michael Timoney, MD, FACS


NYU Langone – Brooklyn

April 20, 2020, 3:04 p.m.

Running a hospital presents many challenges, but nothing has been more challenging than what we are facing today with Covid-19.  Our hospital ensures that every staff member has appropriate PPE, and I personally have not heard of one scenario where someone did not have protective gear.  We keep in very close communication with our front-line clinical leaders, specifically to make sure everyone is safe and has the protective equipment and tools to provide excellent patient care.  

With a world-class health system, comes a world-class response.  I am extremely proud of NYU Langone Health’s response to this pandemic, and our resilience has never been stronger.

Jordan A. Solop, MBA, FACHE

Vice President, Hospital Operations

NYU Langone Hospital – Brooklyn

April 20, 2020, 2:54 p.m.

As the Director of the NYU Langone Hospitalist Program, I am in charge of a team of more than 40 physicians who have been working tirelessly on the front-line during this COVID epidemic.  

I want to set the record straight. 

I speak for my team that we have never — not once -—been asked to care for a patient without appropriate personal protective equipment. Quite the contrary, NYU Langone Health has gone out of its way to ensure that we maintain the highest degree of safety. To assert otherwise, is simply not true. 

Katherine Ardalan Hochman, MD, FHM

Associate Professor of Medicine

Associate Chair for Quality, Department of Medicine

Assistant Chief of Medicine, Tisch Hospital

Section Chief, Division of General Internal Medicine

NYU Langone Medical Center

April 20, 2020, 2:37 p.m.

I am writing in response to the WSN article I saw regarding NYU. I would like to tell you how that article does not accurately portray the current working environment at NYU. 

I am an NYU physician and hospitalist caring for Covid 19 patients at NYU Langone Brooklyn.  I continue to receive my full salary with no changes and no concern for job loss during this difficult time. Throughout this entire COVID-19 crisis I have always had appropriate PPE available, from head covers, foot covers, surgical masks, N95s, gowns, gloves, face shields and more.  I have never been without appropriate PPE gear during all my clinical encounters at NYU. I’ve had worried family members calling me after hearing on the media that physicians in the U.S. are not able to get PPE. I have told all of my family members I am very fortunate to be working at NYU where I always feel protected and have PPE gear available to me at all times. 

Sheetal Desai-Oghra MD

Hospitalist, NYU Langone Hospital – Brooklyn

HRO Clinical Lead

Surgical Co-management Lead

Clinical Assistant Professor of Medicine

April 20, 2020, 2:25 p.m.

An opinion when written by a citizen who is unaffiliated with a news organization may contain misstatements and inaccurate facts. This is called Vox Populi, aka the Voice of the People and can sometimes contain emotions more than fact. Typically, those opinions are placed on an opinion page by a team of editors. I find it an egregious error if an opinion is written and published by a member of a media outlet and is not fact checked prior to publication. That is in effect false news and I am writing to your attention to call it such. 

I am a sixteen-year member of the NYU Winthrop Hospital executive team and found your Opinion Piece about the Langone Health System inaccurate and disturbing. 

At no point have we denied our team members appropriate PPE required for their protection or for the protection of their patients. During these difficult times which have seen large increases in inpatients who are in serious or critical condition our staff have performed heroically. Due to the surge in patients, we needed to practice conservancy never jeopardizing the safety and welfare of our team. This has been discussed at every level of the organization several times each day since the crisis began. 

Every single patient in need of ventilator support received the necessary support. Thanks to generous donations as well as the provisions of equipment from the state and national stockpile, we have been able to provide care to all patients. NYU Langone Health saw the immediate need to provide extra support to our medical, nursing and respiratory therapy staff given the insidious nature of this virus. NYU Langone Health Human Resources made immediate arrangements to bring in outside staffing known as travelers to augment our full time staff who had been working both overtime and extra shifts placing the needs of the patients ahead of their own. 

We have directed tremendous resources to build additional acute care inpatient units, emergency room tents to accommodate the surge of patients in Nassau County and ambulatory patient and employee testing centers. During this time we have we have asked all levels of employees to volunteer for labor reassignments in different parts of the hospital to provide support of staff as well as direct patient care. I cannot say enough about the people that I have the privilege to work with here at NYU Winthrop and throughout NYU Langone Health. They are the finest possible true heroes. This is what working in a hospital is all about. Your editorial sells short the residents, fellows and all others who have stepped up to be a part of the battlefront against Covid 19. 

Despite having to stop normal operations and pivot on a dime to meet the needs of the Covid 19 crisis in the state of New York, none of our employees have been furloughed or fired. I do not believe that all health systems can make that statement. 

I am not sure why you decided to publish your editorial but I thought it necessary to call your attention to some of the misstatements made in the article and the lack of understanding regarding how hospitals regard their mission in the communities that they serve. 

Edward Chewens, MBA 

Vice President, Professional Services

Hospital Operations and Medicine

NYU Langone Health

NYU Winthrop Hospital

April 20, 2020, 2:18 p.m.

I am the medical director of the first floor in the Kimmel Pavilion to become a COVID ICU after the medical ICU was full. We have always had and still have appropriate PPE for ALL staff. 

I should know; I personally hand out masks to staff when the nurse manager is not in her office and did so about a dozen times yesterday for new nurses and respiratory therapists brought in the help us fight COVID 19 or those who needed new masks because theirs were soiled or damaged. 

Our tracheostomy and bronchoscopy teams have completed hundreds of procedures and because we have given them appropriate PPE they are all still healthy and hard at work! 

EVERY day I see staff bringing in a massive cart of gowns and masks to restock our floor and make sure to tell my whole medical team to look and see what NYU is doing for us. 

James Horowitz MD

Medical Director, KP 15 CCU

April 20, 2020, 2:08 p.m.

It is deeply disturbing to read such criticism of NYU Langone during this pandemic. The editor was clearly provided false and misleading information. As a member of the hospital leadership team at the Brooklyn campus, I can attest to daily rounding across all the units, engaging front line staff in discussions around their experiences, staffing, PPE, equipment and needs.  We feared that misleading media reports regarding PPE shortages may alarm our staff and for this reason tried to alleviate any concerns by letting staff know that we were in fact receiving shipments daily. We reinforced the importance of PPE conservation during this pandemic and provided clear guidelines around its use. Despite the influx of very sick patients in a short period of time and our expansion of Intensive Care Units (ICUs) at record speed, we never lost sight of the value of our staff, both clinical and non-clinical, and remain grateful to them all for their heroic efforts. 

Paulina Koudellou

Vice President, Hospital Operations

Women and Children’s Services


NYU Langone Hospital – Brooklyn

April 20, 2020, 2:07 p.m.

As a clinician who works at NYU Langone Health, the opinion article is completely inaccurate, misleading, and false.  NYU Langone Health values all of the individuals who work in the organization. NYU Langone Health offers the highest level of medical care to all of our patients. Furthermore, safety of all staff and patients is paramount and a top priority.   Sadly, this is another example of unsubstantiated claims by the media. The article should be immediately retracted, since spreading “fake news” in a crisis takes away from the heroic work being done to save patient lives.  

Seth A. Gross, MD

Clinical Chief, Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology 

NYU Langone Health

April 20, 2020, 1:52 p.m.

It was disappointing to read the article by Asha Ramachandran, Deputy Opinion Editor, posted on April 17th, 2020 regarding the treatment of staff  at NYU Langone Health. As a senior director of nursing I can attest that all staff were provided the necessary PPE in accordance with the CDC guidelines. The response of our organization during this health crisis has always been with the utmost regard for staff safety. In addition, the call for hazard pay for individuals is fiscally irresponsible. The financial implications this virus will have on our organization and our country are staggering.

What is most disappointing, this article does nothing to recognize the hard work and commitment made by every staff member in the face of a pandemic. While no one could have predicted how their role would have been impacted during this crisis, every health care practitioner I know recognized the need of their services and delivered the best they could. 

Ronald Keller PhD, MPA, RN

Senior Director of Nursing

NYU Langone Health

April 20, 2020, 1:32 p.m.

My experience as an attending physician at NYU Langone Health is inconsistent with what you described in your opinion article. The information is uncorroborated, incorrect, and represents an egregious misrepresentation. This type of fake news should be immediately retracted.

Melissa Latorre, MD MS

Director, Inpatient Gastroenterology Services Tisch/Kimmel

Medical Director, Tisch 14 East

NYU Langone Health

Assistant Professor of Medicine

NYU School of Medicine

April 20, 2020, 1:02 p.m.

I would like to write to express my disappointment in the article entitled “NYU Must Compensate Its Medical Workers Fairly,” published on April 17th

I am surprised to see such a letter in print and would call for its redaction.  My experience at NYU Winthrop is that providers have never been asked to work without sufficient PPE including gowns or n95 masks.  We have taken great care to support our staff throughout this crisis.

We have been able to support our patients during this crisis, including making beds and ventilators available to all patients that needed them. 

We have created a support network of providers to help those in need of counseling and support services, to ensure that all of our staff that are in need of help are able to access it. 

I would ask that the facts be checked prior to publishing such an article, and as a faculty at this institution am saddened to see it in print.

Nicole Adler, MD FACP FHM

Associate CMO NYU Winthrop Hospital

Assistant Professor of Medicine, NYU Grossman School of Medicine

NYU Langone Health

April 20, 2020, 12:54 p.m.

I was extremely disappointed to see your opinion piece titled “NYU Must Compensate Its Medical Workers Fairly.” 

First, as a long term employee of NYU Langone Health, I found it very distressing that voices within our own ‘family’ would take such a distrustful and combative tone. Since the beginning of the COVID epidemic, the biggest strength at NYU Langone Health has been our cohesion. People have come together as one unified team more than anyone could have possibly hoped. As a few examples, at NYU-Brooklyn we have Orthopedic surgeons screening COVID patients in our ED screening center, and ED PAs working as inpatient providers on COVID wards. We have OR nurses doing ED triage, and subspecialty physicians of all stripes calling families to let them know how their loved ones are doing. That an undergraduate with no experience in our house would cast such negative assertions upon us during a crisis, is truly disappointing.

Second, we have PPE. We have the right PPE. We have enough PPE. The same can be said of ventilators, staff, and most other supplies. Are there supply chain concerns? Absolutely. Have some individual staff members taken it upon themselves to raise funds to help ensure we never run out of that which we need? Yes. But most importantly, our supply chain team has been working 24/7 to ensure our front lines have everything they need, and we are overcoming these challenges, together.  The idea that ANYTHING comes before the safety of our staff and patients is frankly shocking. 

Third, the issue of hazard pay is a complex one. I don’t pretend to have all the right answers, but I do contend that Ms Ramachandran has neither the expertise nor the context to advocate in good faith. NYU Langone, and most every medical center in New York, has suddenly seen a huge financial shock. Our medical center has taken the appropriate stance that care comes first, and finances will have to follow. We have been spending money to keep our team well equipped and safe and rapidly evolve our facilities to care for hundreds of COVID patients. This is all happening when many significant revenue sources have ceased. Never has there been a question of whether to do these things or whether such spending would be made. The message has been spend what needs to be spent to care for every patient as if he or she was your own family member. In focusing on a hazard pay stipend, I fear Ms Ramachandran has missed the forest for the trees.

 Our employees have worked tirelessly day and night to fight COVID and keep NYC safe.

We deserve better than this story.

Ian Wittman, MD

Chief of Service, NYU Langone Health – Brooklyn

Ronald O Perelman Department of Emergency Medicine

Clinical Associate Professor, NYU School of Medicine

Co-Fellowship Director, Healthcare Leadership and Operations Fellowship

April 20, 2020, 12:32 p.m.

As a proud Emergency Room physician at NYU, this article strikes a chord with many who have been working on the front lines. We have been diligently and fearlessly preparing and fighting covid-19 since January 2020.  And even before the first case was reported, NYU has been aggressively fighting for patients and staff.  

We have had proper PPE every single day.  Never have we had to bring in our own PPE, wear outside masks, bring in our own gowns, or use our own facemasks.   We NEVER had patients with covid in the Emergency Department for prolonged periods unlike other hospitals. We adapted faster than any other hospital could.   

NYU has had a phenomenal response to COVID 19.  We have kept our staff and our patients as safe as possible.  As physicians, we risk our health every day for our patients. Through the AIDS epidemic, SARS, Ebola, and COVID-19, we do our jobs, which is to help others in their greatest times of need.  NYU has enabled us to continue to serve our patients. 

One message I received from a resident recently stated, “I don’t know if it’s getting through to you (and all the admin team) enough, but we are extraordinarily grateful to you guys.  We see you sacrificing everything, working tirelessly day and night and putting yourselves in the front lines to give us confidence, fighting battles for our safety, patient safety, and the good of the city.  We’re all scared, but we’d also follow you into metaphorical battle without question…Among all the frustrations, the consistent theme amount the residency is that you are more impressive than we ever imagined.  We have complete faith in your as our leaders.” 

It is irresponsible to print an article that has so many inaccuracies.  If the goal is to smear our world class institution, then congratulations, you did it.  The leaders of this hospital have gone to war with and for us. You’re not helping the front lines, you are deeply hurting us.

Tina Wu, MD, MBA

Medical Director, KP11 COVID Unit

Associate Chief of Service

Perelman Center for Emergency Services

NYU Langone Health

Associate Professor

Ronald O. Perelman Department of Emergency Medicine

NYU School of Medicine

April 20, 2020, 10:54 a.m.

Opinions expressed on the editorial pages are not necessarily those of WSN, and our publication of opinions is not an endorsement of them.

A version of this article appeared in the Monday, Apr. 20, 2020 e-print edition. Email NYU Langone at [email protected].

About the Contributor
Echo Chen, Multimedia Editor
Echo Chen is the Multimedia Editor at the Washington Square News. She is a freshman in Gallatin studying visual storytelling, sprung from her love of painting, photography, film and, above all else, people! She is a fierce defender of her home state New Jersey, a plant mom and a lover of coffee, sweetgreen and animated movies. She's currently on a mission to pet 365 dogs in 2018, one for every day of the year. Keep up with her at and on ig @echothegecko.
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  • M

    M Gallagher, resident physicianApr 25, 2020 at 7:58 am

    Ms. Ramachandran

    It is absolutely disgusting to see hospital administrators gleefully turn out to destroy your article based on what they characterize as a single-sentence inaccuracy. Granted, I hope there will be debates after this pandemic ends as to what constitutes adequate PPE in the face of CDC guidelines that clearly are devised to protect rationing institutions rather than protect workers.

    But while admins throw their names behind a complaint about the accuracy or inaccuracy of a PPE shortage (barring a miracle stockpile at NYU some shape of a shortage or anticipated shortage certainly exists, otherwise there would be no reason to take donations), they pointedly almost all ignore your central point on the importance of hazard pay. Even when it is addressed, they patronizingly say you are too young to understand economics rather than address the clear moral argument being made by your op-ed.

    NYU’s response is a shame upon their institution.

    All my love and solidarity to WSN and its staff as I am sure this horrible campaign has shaken them. You all do not deserve this.

  • F

    FritzApr 24, 2020 at 4:55 pm

    As someone who trains at NYU Langone, I can tell you firsthand that there is a shortage of PPE evidenced by the hospital’s expectation that we re-use N95s day after day (in direct contradiction to the manufacturers recommendations). I acknowledge that the magnitude of the current pandemic may prevent us from maintaining the previous standard of single use N95 masks but lets not send the NYU Langone administrators to attack a journalist for correctly describing a “shortage”, most of whom have probably never been present for a super-spreading event like many of the true, frontline workers. I don’t blame NYU for the PPE shortages or the lack of hazard pay, but I do hold the responding veteran physicians and admins (above) in contempt for their inability to acknowledge the challenges for what they are and for not showing compassion to their workers, trainees, frontline staff. Their behavior is “unbecoming”, “could ruin their honor in this moment”, and “maybe the more mature ones will understand”.

  • A

    AnonymousApr 24, 2020 at 4:17 am

    Very telling that all these responses denouncing the original letter are from people in positions of leadership and power—not frontline workers. The frontline workers are all posting anonymously—clear there is a culture of bullying from reading this.

  • A

    Anon resident MDApr 23, 2020 at 5:28 pm

    Wow what a colossal failure of leadership from a major academic medical center! This mass response bullying of an undergrad reporter will become a case study for future MD and MBA students. If they put the same effort into protecting their people that they do into bullying a reporter, maybe they wouldn’t be in this situation.

    And let’s call people out: the physician leader who wanted to know if his trainees had signed the petition – presumably so he could bully them too – was GI director Mark Pochapin. Another leader who threatened and belittled his trainees was chief of urology Herberr Lepor (who was also sued by a former partner for some interesting allegations of misuse of funds as reported in the NYPost). This is all publicly available and verifiable now and these men should publicly apologize along with the others printed here.

    What a disgusting and petty outburst from what was once a great medical center. I hope their board of directors cleans house in the C-suite.

  • A

    AnonymousApr 23, 2020 at 2:40 pm

    Thank you Ms. Ramachandran for bringing attention to an important issue. It is telling to see how vehement the responses are from those in leadership positions while comments from frontline workers are posted anonymously. Please do not let this deter you from addressing controversial issues going forward.

  • A

    Anonymous New Yorker who donated PPE to NYUApr 23, 2020 at 1:53 pm

    Please note- Ms. Ramachandran’s original article referred to a “leaked email(s)” that revealed leadership’s true opinion of their resident staff: asking to know which of their direct reports had signed the petition for hazard pay; insinuating that resident staff was immature for asking for hazard pay and questioning their moral character; and refusal to meet the standard set by most other NYC institutions that promised $1200-1600/mo/per person to support staff during these difficult times. These are POORER institutions, not nearly as well endowed as NYU. Only after the email debacle did NYU finally acquiesce to promoting residents to the subsequent pay tier (a paltry $167-417/mo PRE-tax) while allowing leadership to call residents greedy if they continue to ask for pay equitable to their counterparts at other hospitals.
    Many of these “leaders” who cyber bullied Ms. Ramachandran in the above letters are themselves making anywhere from $200k – $5.4MM annually, and have lost all ability to empathize with resident staff. Medical residents have no agency in planning their work schedules, are not allowed to take leave or vacation (while attending doctors, nurses, techs, and janitors may), and are making around 60k/yr for working 72hrs/week. These “leaders” have spent the past months similarly bullying their direct reports, asking them to lie about how they were treated when incoming medical students interview for the program. One such hospital chief went as far as to write “I…personally feel demanding hazard pay now is not becoming of a compassionate and caring physician” – a statement that serves only to reveal his hypocrisy.

  • A

    Anonymous New Yorker who donated PPE to NYUApr 23, 2020 at 10:55 am

    Please note- Ms. Ramachandran’s original article referred to a “leaked email(s)” that revealed leadership’s true opinion of their resident staff: asking to know which of their direct reports had signed the petition for hazard pay; insinuating that resident staff was immature for asking for hazard pay and questioning their moral character; and refusal to meet the standard set by most other NYC institutions that promised $1200-1600/mo/per person to support staff during these difficult times. Keep in mind, these are POORER institutions, not nearly as well endowed as NYU. Only after the email debacle did NYU finally acquiesce to promoting residents to the subsequent pay tier (a paltry $167-417/mo PRE-tax) while allowing leadership to call residents greedy if they continue to ask for pay equitable to their counterparts at other hospitals.
    Many of these “leaders” who cyber bullied Ms. Ramachandran in the above letters are themselves making anywhere from $200k – $5.4MM annually, and have lost all ability to empathize with resident staff. Medical residents have no agency in planning their work schedules, are not allowed to take leave or vacation (while attending doctors, nurses, techs, and janitors may), and are making around 60k/yr for working 72hrs/week. These “leaders” have spent the past months similarly bullying their direct reports, asking them to lie about how they were treated when incoming medical students interview for the program. One such hospital chief went as far as to write “I…personally feel demanding hazard pay now is not becoming of a compassionate and caring physician” – a statement that serves only to reveal his hypocrisy.

  • A

    Anonymous Civilian Donor of PPE to NYU ResidentsApr 23, 2020 at 12:49 am

    Honestly, it’s pretty sad watching a large group of fully-grown, highly-successful adults mercilessly attack a teenage undergraduate student who did her best to author a thoughtful piece for a school newspaper. Frankly, at best this is coordinated pettiness at mass scale, and more realistically this is organized bullying. Even worse, it’s by senior medical professionals who should be focusing their time and energy on, oh yeah, the global pandemic!

    Asha Ramachandran’s piece was frankly better written and closer to reality (based on what I’ve heard from close friends who are NYU residents) than the barrage of letters from brown-nosing senior NYU execs. I personally donated a large quantity of N95 masks to NYU residents who were told they should use bananas because hospital supplies were running out. If there was adequate PPE, my friends wouldn’t have needed these donations!

    Additionally, every other major NYC hospital has granted hazard pay for their residents. There really is no excuse. They’re not asking for millions of dollars here, it’s a few thousand per resident so that they can stress a tiny bit less about how they’re going to make rent this month, and focus a little bit more on saving lives in the midst of the largest global health crisis in a century!

  • N

    NYU Frontline ResidentApr 22, 2020 at 2:32 pm

    The fact that I have to respond anonymously says everything I need to about the culture of intimidation that Dr. Nunnally tried to refute.

    NYU’s pandemic response has left me, as a frontline worker – working essentially 80 hour weeks, on service for 7 straight weeks witnessing dozens of deaths weekly, and rarely told of any planned changes until already implemented – feeling exploited and undervalued. My resident colleagues at other NYC institutions have much more humane schedules. They seem to have leadership that listens, and acknowledges their shortcomings. I receive emails with warnings about speaking to media, taunts of being immature for asking for basic workplace protections, and condescending Town Halls from the department chair.

    Nearly every nurse, radiology technician, custodian, physician, etc who I’ve interacted with has been incredible. A supporting hand, a listening ear, a shoulder to cry on. Nearly every member of senior leadership has down-played my concerns in chase of mythical “better numbers” or “better reputation.”

    If this is a war, as Dean Grossman recently asserted, than my faith in my leaders has been eroded. A vote of no confidence is in order.

  • G

    Get Me PPEApr 22, 2020 at 7:38 am

    To use the words of some of the above letter writers, I find this magnitude of response “disturbing.” Pick on someone your own size – this undergraduate has shown more compassion and interest in frontline workers than most of the above letter writers. How many of these administrators have held a phone to allow family members to speak to dying loved ones? Why have we been gladly accepting donations for PPE if there is no shortage? Why have frontline residents, nurses, and other staff fallen sick when few of the above have?

    Perhaps the time and energy spent by our leadership replying to a piece in an undergraduate newspaper would be better spent actually helping your employees and not attacking your students.

  • S

    SerenaApr 22, 2020 at 2:34 am

    I would personally like to hear the experience of residents, fellows, and attending physicians – as well as RNs, NP’s, PA’s, and Respiratory Therapists, Pulmonary techs etc. They’re the frontline staff during this pandemic – not the hospital administrators and senior leadership.

  • N

    NYU Frontline ResidentApr 22, 2020 at 12:45 am

    Dear Ms. Ramachandran,

    THANK YOU for advocating for us! We have had instances where we had less than appropriate PPE and as a result have received donations from family/friends/business for N95 masks, face shields, and gowns. In addition, hospitals being in compliance with “CDC guidelines” means guidelines were adapted to conserve resources, not necessarily the appropriate methods for protecting healthcare workers. In addition, numerous frontline residents and nurses have become ill with COVID-19. Residents and nurses are in fact the FRONTLINE, we are the ones holding the hands of patients and trying to mitigate the fear in their eyes. We’re using our cellphones so our patient’s can FaceTime their loved ones to say goodbye. Administrators of hospital departments/units/floors do not have nearly the amount of exposure that we do. If you asked any of us the question, “would you run into the room of a crashing patient if there was no PPE available?” The answer would always be yes. Our drive for what we do, will always be our patients. However, we should never be put in the the situation where we have to decide between saving ourselves/exposing our families vs. saving a patient’s life.

    I’m sorry that our colleagues have decided to use a student newspaper as the platform to defend themselves and in turn bully an undergraduate student when many larger news outlets have been reporting on the same issues. Although the issues off PPE and hazard pay are larger than any institution it is NYU’s coordinated response to your opinion piece with threatening rhetoric that is truly disappointing. Please know you have allies and a community that supports you, your curiosity and investigation, and your plans for the future!

    Keep your head up high and keep doing what you’re doing!

  • F

    Fritz Failed UsApr 22, 2020 at 12:27 am

    I find strangely ironic that NYU Langone has a strict media policy, that we have been frequently reminded of during the pandemic

    “Please remember that permission is required to speak to the press, on behalf of the institution. This includes media interviews, filming, videotaping or photography. If you have any concerns please reach out to your leadership” is a frequent tag line in many department-wide communications. Yet, dozens of executives and middle managers at NYU suddenly feel it’s okay to publish their opinions on the NYU student newspaper. This article illustrates how far NYU leadership has gone in trying to cover up their failure to protect front line staff during the beginning of this pandemic. I wonder what it must feel like to be an accomplished professional who has become so entrenched into the bureaucracy of an institution that you are willing to look away from the truth in order to protect your paychecks. What does it feel like to trade your dignity and betray the realities of front line Attendings, residents, nurses, techs and PAs who struggled to get the proper guidance regarding appropriate PPE? As managers who are now more interested in protecting your personal livelihoods and inherently understand that it is your job to tow the line of your money hungry institution, you rationalize your behavior in whatever distorted ways that allow you to sleep at night. Fortunately for us, the light of truth is inescapable. In the coming months more of your failures, greed and deceit will be exposed because it has been well-documented.

  • A

    Anonymous ResidentApr 21, 2020 at 11:01 pm

    I’m a resident who has intubated someone with an N95 that did not fit my face when no PAPRs were available. It’s disheartening to see admin collectively deny the experiences of their frontline staff. I’ve actually worked with one of the above letter writers on a day we ran out of gowns. Its sad to see this paper elevate the voices of those in power, few who are working clinically, when the experience of frontline staff is so starkly different.