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Boro hospital to refund $10.5M to worker union

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Parkway Hospital has not paid Local 1199 the dues deducted from workers' paychecks for about three years and employees have had to wait days to cash their checks as the union tried to recoup that money through legal action, said Mitra Behroozi, director of the union's Benefits Fund.

Administrators at Parkway Hospital, at 70-35 113th St. in Forest Hills, declined to comment.

The union placed a lien on the hospital earlier this month, which froze the hospital's assets, for failing to hand over the $10.5 million the labor group says it is owed in dues and benefits payments, Behroozi said.

"It was not a situation that the union or the fund were happy about at all," she said.

With Parkway's assets frozen, workers were unable to cash their Feb. 13 paychecks until days later, and they were told not to try to deposit Friday's check until Monday afternoon, said one worker, who asked not to be identified.

"It's been very stressful for us," he said, referring to his fellow workers. "I feel like the employees are the ones left hanging in balance."

And even with the cash in their pockets, workers were still having problems accessing savings plans established through the hospital, 401K accounts, and other benefits, said the employee, who is a father of two children.

"I do depend on everything I get from the hospital," he said.

But the union, which represents all types of hospital employees, told its members that a deal had been negotiated to recoup the money it is allegedly owed. The installment plan, inked Monday, includes a substantial initial payment, which the hospital made Tuesday, and establishes a schedule for future deposits, Behroozi said. The union's Benefits Fund has a delinquency committee that will monitor the payments, she said.

"Everything's been restored," Behroozi said of the benefits and the hospital's assets. "We lifted the restraints against them."

The hospital, which is privately owned and cares mostly for the elderly, was fined $32,000 by the state Health Department in 2001 for performing unnecessary prostate surgeries on 12 patients from an Elmhurst nursing home.

The Health Department found that two doctors at the hospital performed the surgeries without having the patients' consent and without getting a full medical history.

The hospital was also criticized by a deaf man who said the facility did not provide a competent sign-language translator for his wife, who is also deaf and was seeking treatment for heart and kidney conditions.

Reach reporter Courtney Dentch by e-mail at news@timesledger.com, or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 138.

Posted 7:02 pm, October 10, 2011
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