TonTherapists at Mental Health Startups Resilience Lab voted Wednesday to unionize, one of the first successful unionization efforts at a digital health company.
Five current and former employees, who spoke on the condition of anonymity for fear of retaliation, are getting more and more staff after the company fired 12 therapists, changed how the rest were paid and introduced third-party software to track patients’ progress. Concerned about the move, the move comes after employees grew concerned. The petition to hold the union election and the dismissal was first reported by Gothamist.
The New York-based startup, founded in 2019 by chief clinical officer Christine Carville and her husband and CEO Marc Goldberg, bills itself as “the largest and most diverse collective of New York-based therapists.” As the company has grown, employees say, it has placed an increasing emphasis on technology and software, and has begun hiring former executives from WeWork, Uber and Airbnb, in a $15 million Series A round led by Viewside Capital Partners and Morningside in November. leading.
After publishing a report on corporate venture financing, Forbes Three days ago, Resilience Lab fired 12 of its 200 therapists, giving them a week to transition 271 patients, according to documents reviewed by Resilience Lab. Forbes. Three administrative employees were also fired, according to current and former employees involved in the unionization. They also said most of the fired employees had marginalized identities, including people of color, queer, transgender and people with disabilities.
Carville and Goldberg did not respond to multiple email and phone calls to the Resilience Lab office for comment for this story.
Resilience Lab employees were elected by a vote of 79 to 13 to represent District Council 37 AFSCME, the union that typically represents New York, according to National Labor Relations Board spokeswoman Kayla Blado. public sector employees, which oversee elections. Blado confirmed 15 ballots were questioned and not counted.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, by 2022, about 1.2 million healthcare workers will be unionized, accounting for 13% of the total healthcare workforce, down 0.5 percentage points from the previous year.
“We’re now starting to secure a contract for our newest member — the first telehealth company in the country,” Henry Garrido, executive director of the 37th District Council, said in a statement. “All workers deserve the support of their union, whether they conduct business online or face-to-face.”
up Until four months ago, Current and former employees say Resilience Lab offers the prospect of a steady paid job in what can be an exploitative training period for early occupational therapists.In order to become a fully licensed therapist, Someone with a master’s degree in mental health counseling or social work must first complete thousands of hours of supervised clinical training, one of the problems Carvell and Goldberg have previously told Forbes They try to work it out.
Resilience Lab employs therapists under supervision, and they take a percentage of the patient’s treatment.The company offers the possibility of achieving so-called “resident” status if they hit 100 patient sessions in a row — a position that pays $67,000 with benefits and bonus potential, according to employees and documents obtained ForbesThis is attractive because according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average social worker salary is $50,390 per year or $24.23 per hour.
In June, Resilience Lab announced a partnership with a Boston startup called Mirah to deploy “measurement-based care,” which it described in a press release as “the practice of delivering clinical care based on client data collected throughout treatment.” “. Patients begin with weekly assessments to be completed outside of sessions with therapists.
According to a letter signed by more than 60 employees sent to Resilience Lab management in July, a group of therapists said they objected to the way the company implemented the software was “unethical.” The team wrote that they were concerned that this frequent assessment and the idea that treatment “progresses” linearly could be detrimental to patients. The letter also asks for more details on what patient data is being collected and how it is being used.
In August, Resilience Lab announced new hires from other tech startups to drive business expansion. Patrick Morselli, WeWork’s former head of global expansion, will serve as chief operating officer. John Hamby, former regional manager of community engagement at Uber, has been named general manager, and Alyssa Lin, former director of portfolio strategy at Airbnb Luxe, is head of growth.Goldberg has previously told Forbes The company “has no interest in building Lyft or Uber for therapy.”
In mid-October, the therapist received a new contract. The $67,000 “resident physician” position was eliminated. Instead, all therapists are paid a base salary of $1,300 per month — $15,600 per year — plus 15 percent of the patient’s treatment costs for the first 49 sessions per month. Healer’s percentage share increased to over 50 times.
When the company announced its Series A round the following month, the press release touted its software offerings: an online training program for therapists, a “proprietary software infrastructure” for billing, reimbursement, and tracking patient outcomes, and Customer Matching Software.
Current and former employees say the focus on technology and software is another blow to the morale of the company’s mental health workers. “Until recently, they didn’t openly acknowledge that it was a mental health technology platform in their hiring process,” Tanya Tripi-Weiss, one of the therapists on the union’s organizing committee who was fired, told reporters. forbes. “Until recently, we were as involved as a larger private practice in New York City.”
Another former employee described it as a bait and switch: “I think they use all clinicians as essentially guinea pigs so they can figure out what works [with the technology]”
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