For Immediate Release
Contact: Mark Genovese, 518.782.9400, ext 353
VALHALLA, Aug. 1, 2011 – Westchester Medical Center’s Comprehensive Psychiatric Emergency Program (CPEP) closed for good Sunday morning, and the medical center’s nurses are concerned.
The nurses’ concern isn’t for the loss of RN jobs – the unit’s four nurses are being reassigned to other positions in the medical center. They’re worried about their colleagues in support positions who have been laid off, but more so for the patients who have lost an essential, sometimes life-saving, community service.
“It’s a disgrace that the medical center has abandoned a program that’s so urgently needed,” said Sandy Owen, RN, a member of the New York State Nurses Association, which represents the nurses at Westchester Medical Center. “Our community has already lost four county-run mental health clinics at a time when pressures on working families are increasing due to the difficult economy.”
“Without the CPEP, the community has lost a staff that has been specially trained to evaluate and medicate violent or psychotic patients who were brought in by police,” Owen said. “How can that be replaced?”
The center’s reach has been extensive, it’s staff has treated patients from not only the Lower Hudson region, but all of New York City’s boroughs, and even as far north as the Canadian border. The program had been used for both adult and adolescent patients waiting for inpatient beds, further evaluation and referral to outpatient services, or transfer to other hospitals. These are patients who often have had little access to mental health services, particularly the children and adolescents.
This closure comes as the nurses are engaged in negotiations for a new contract, and illustrates their concern about the medical center’s deteriorating commitment to its workforce.
The New York State Nurses Association is the voice for nursing in the Empire State. With more than 37,000 members, it is New York’s largest professional association and union for registered nurses. The association represents registered nurses, and some all-professional bargaining units, in New York and New Jersey. It supports nurses and nursing practice through education, research, legislative advocacy, and collective bargaining.
- 30 -