(This story was updated at 5:45 p.m. ET)
Kirk Adams, the longtime healthcare chief for the Service Employees International Union, is leaving that role to join the Healthcare Education Project, a joint effort of the 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East and the Greater New York Hospital Association.
Adams, 65, will help the Healthcare Education Project address national healthcare issues and protect federal healthcare funding for New York's hospitals, nursing homes, home care providers and medical schools, the organization said in a news release.
During Adams' tenure at SEIU, the organization has embraced partnerships like the Healthcare Education Project and the Labor Management Partnership between Kaiser Permanente and 28 union locals. This collaborative approach has garnered SEIU a less adversarial profile than peers such as National Nurses United and the National Union of Healthcare Workers.
“We actually think a partnership is the best approach in healthcare, because we think healthcare is a team concept,” Adams said.
With those alliances, SEIU is striving to bring the interests of frontline employees into big conversations about the future of healthcare, Adams said. The Healthcare Education Project hosted an educational session with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in October 2014 to educate workers on the CDC's new protocols for personal protection from the Ebola virus.
“I think we have really tried to take this moment, which is a very change-oriented movement, and not fight change but embrace change, and bring to that change a worker's voice,” Adams said. “We believe the delivery system of healthcare is fundamentally about frontline delivery mechanisms and our frontline workers should be a part of that.”
In his new role, which doesn't have a title yet, Adams said he wants to take what the Healthcare Education Project has accomplished in New York to Washington.
“We want to make sure that those things that have been working in New York are supported by the decisions in Washington, D.C., from the standpoint of good jobs and training workers, and those are not purely New York things,” Adams said. “That's a challenge facing this whole country and the intention here is not just to fight this battle in New York, but to fight this cause and to be a part of a larger group of hospitals and systems who have a similar interest and a similar mission of looking at the issues as they do in New York.”
SEIU has not decided who will take over his role, Adams said.
Adams is married to Cecile Richards, president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America. He ranked No. 80 on Modern Healthcare's 2015 100 Most Influential People in Healthcare.