Skip to main content

Hospitals Fret Over Trump Travel Ban

News  |  By John Commins  
   February 01, 2017

Health system leaders, hospital communities, and the AHA are expressing concern about the travel ban issued by President Donald Trump.

Citing the experiences of his immigrant grandparents, Montefiore President and CEO Steven M. Safyer, MD, offered a spirited critique of the travel ban imposed Friday by President Donald Trump.

"We are in the midst of a challenging time," Safyer wrote in a letter this week to colleagues at the Bronx, NY hospital. "The ideals upon which our nation was built are being questioned."

"My grandparents settled in the Bronx from Poland escaping persecution and found a community that embraced them in a country that gave them an opportunity to build a new life," he wrote. "As an institution, Montefiore was founded on our commitment to healthcare as a basic human right, and we continue to live our values of humanity, innovation, teamwork, diversity and equity."

Safyer said the hospital would not cooperate against any attempts to violate access to healthcare or medical training. That includes:

  • Refusing to provide information about the immigration status of patients, students, or employees without due process legal proceedings.
  • Refusing any attempt to learn or question anyone about their immigration status, except as legally required.
  • Treating equally all applications to the Albert Einstein College of Medicine or graduate programs regardless of their immigration status.
  • Continuing to provide financial aid and other support services for students regardless of their immigration status in the event that the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival policy is curtailed.

"Montefiore will not waiver on our commitment to our principles," Safyer wrote. "We will continue to stay true to our values in support of our patients, associates, students, trainees and community."

AHA, Other Health System Reactions
Safyer offered one of the more strongly worded criticisms of the travel ban. The American Hospital Association was more circumspect as it raised concerns that the ban would negatively affect healthcare delivery.

"We are concerned that, without modification, President Trump's executive order on immigration could adversely impact patient care, education, and research," AHA President and CEO Rick Pollack said in a media release.

"We are hopeful that the Administration will find solutions to preserve patient access to medical and nursing expertise from across the globe, ensuring care is not disrupted. Hospitals and the patients we serve often rely on international collaboration among clinicians to advance care and an efficient visa program is essential to their success. We rely on a diverse workforce to deliver the care patients and families need. We will work with the Administration to come up with a solution that patients can continue to rely on for their care."

The Mayo Clinic said this week it was "currently assessing the situation," particularly as it relates to the status of 80 staff, physicians and scholars, and 20 patients who have ties to the seven country included in the executive order.

"We are not aware of any Mayo Clinic staff traveling for Mayo Clinic business who are currently affected. We are not aware of any Mayo-sponsored non-immigrant visa holders who have been immediately affected. We are still unsure of how Mayo staff and their families who are traveling for personal reasons may be affected," Mayo said in a media release.

"A number of Mayo Clinic staff and trainees have expressed concern about the potential impact this order may have on their future plans, and we are working to more fully assess and advise on these concerns in a rapidly changing legal environment."

On Sunday, Mayo Clinic CEO John Noseworthy, who last month met with President-elect Trump, expressed concern and added that he was "actively monitoring this situation."

Also this week, Yale New Haven Health System told its more than 20,000 employees that all noncitizens should "strongly consider" not leaving the country because of the travel ban, while Hartford HealthCare CEO Elliot Joseph wrote in a blog post that "people of all political persuasions are feeling a bit inundated by—and confused about—recent changes to entry requirements to the United States, and related court decisions."

An open letter to Toby Cosgrove, MD, CEO of the Cleveland Clinic, urges the organization to reschedule a fundraiser planned to be held at a Trump-owned facility, and to condemn the travel ban.

The letter is signed by medical students, residents, physicians, and other healthcare workers opposed to "the Cleveland Clinic silently continu[ing] to promote ties with the Trump administration."

Cosgrove is a member of the White House's "strategic and policy" forum and did not immediately comment on the letter, which was posted Tuesday.

Asked about the fundraiser, Clinic spokeswoman Eileen Sheil told CNBC there would be "No change for this year," but added that "we are not committed after this year's event."

John Commins is a content specialist and online news editor for HealthLeaders, a Simplify Compliance brand.

Tagged Under:

Get the latest on healthcare leadership in your inbox.