Elected Officials, Community Leaders, Registered Nurses and Healthcare Workers demand Montefiore Health System not close Mount Vernon Hospital

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: October 25, 2019
Contact: Halimah Elmariah, helmariah@kivvit.com, 201.290.9753

Mount Vernon, NY – Elected officials, community leaders, registered nurses and healthcare workers hosted a town hall Thursday night at Grace Baptist Church protesting the closure of Mount Vernon Hospital.

Montefiore Health System wants to close the only hospital in Mount Vernon, limiting critical access to care for the entire city.

Mount Vernon Hospital is an asset to the community, that takes care of at-risk patients, with programs to treat diabetes, dialysis, mental health issues, cardiac disease, stroke, and HIV/AIDS. Latest numbers show 70% of patients are African American. An overwhelmingly majority of outpatients, including emergency department visitors, are from Mount Vernon proper.

Mount Vernon is a designated medically underserved area and was recently withdrawn from Health Professional Shortage Area status – something it could risk regaining if closing inpatients beds pushes affiliated clinical professionals out of the area. This closure attempt will severely hurt the residents of Mount Vernon who need more healthcare services – not less.

US Representative Eliot Engel said, “When I heard Montefiore was planning to close Mount Vernon Hospital and build a new facility on Sandford Boulevard, I immediately spoke with Montefiore President Steve Safyer and expressed my belief that the health care needs of the community should be their top priority, as it is mine. I also told Dr. Safyer it would be prudent to convene local stakeholders, including local elected officials, and gather input from members of the Mount Vernon community. Since their announcement, there has been a lot of consternation in Mount Vernon which is already considered medically underserved. Concerns have also grown about what effect this plan will have on the livelihood of those employed by the hospital, such as maintenance workers, nurses and administrators, and its potential impact on the local economy. We need more answers and I hope this event will help facilitate a broader conversation about Montefiore’s plan.”

NYS Senator Jamaal Bailey said, “It is unfortunate that Montefiore has decided to close their Mount Vernon hospital. Many of the city’s residents rely heavily on the services that the hospital provides. This decision could have a significant impact on the wait times and resources of other nearby hospitals and could be life threatening for patients that may require immediate care. I hope Montefiore would reconsider its decision to close the hospital.”

NYS Assemblyman J. Gary Pretlow said, “The closing of Montefiore’s hospital in Mount Vernon will have drastic repercussions. This hospital has been a pivotal center for the community for years and our residents have come to rely on the services of the hospital. A sudden closure without any replacement will be detrimental to the livelihood of the community. I urge Montefiore to reconsider their decision to close the hospital.”

Westchester County Legislator Lyndon D. Williams said, “According to the Community Health and Needs Assessment Plan prepared by Montefiore, Mount Vernon has the most vulnerable population for Chronic Diseases and health risks in Westchester County. I am concerned that closing the hospital creates extreme hardship for senior citizens and other residents, who are in need of critical tertiary and secondary care and places a disproportionate economic burden of a poor and underserved community. I call on Montefiore to seriously reconsider this plan and its impacts on Mount Vernon residents.”

Acting Mount Vernon Council President Janice Duarte said, “We are deeply concerned that Montefiore Hospital would be able to provide better care by reducing its footprint and offering fewer services, especially emergency inpatient and surgical care for a city the size of Mount Vernon.”

Shawyn Patterson Howard, Democratic Nominee for Mayor of Mount Vernon, said, “Mount Vernon residents need and deserve more than just talk around this urgent situation. It’s time for action. This process has just begun, and many questions remain. I promise to do everything I can to ensure that Mount Vernon residents have access to a full-service hospital.”

Mount Vernon City Councilwoman Delia Farqarhson said, “The potential closure of the Mount Vernon Hospital is a very tragic development for our city. It signals loss in employment for many, and even worse, the loss in health care services for a community of color that has historically received disparate care for the vulnerable, uninsured and underinsured. We deserve better. An urgent care facility is not a hospital. In a community of more than 70,000 people many with chronic conditions, seconds matter. Black lives Matter in healthcare too.”

Tracy McCook, RN, Mt Vernon Hospital, New York State Nurses Association said, “The threat Montefiore poses in closing Mount Vernon Hospital is terrible. We have joined with community residents and clergy, religious and elected leaders, other unions including 1199SEIU to say to Montefiore: you are taking away a safety net facility and the only hospital in our city. There is no question that the very sick and injured will suffer if the closing takes place.”

Reverend Troy DeCohen, President, United Black Clergy of Westchester said, “Here we are again literally fighting for our lives. We have to protect our community from losing a viable and valuable resource. It’s imperative that everyone come together as a united front to preserve these essential services that will literally determine life or death. It’s unconscionable, unthinkable and disrespectful for anyone to contemplate closing the doors of Mount Vernon Hospital and therefore shortening the lifespan of mostly people of color and low income. This is who we fight is for…our most vulnerable residents.”

Kevin Holt, President, Uniformed Firefighters Association – Local 107 said, "The Mount Vernon Fire Department Is one of the busiest departments in Westchester County, where last year alone we had over 58 structure fires and over 12,000 calls that we responded to. The hospital is critical because we require the ability to quickly transport members who are unfortunately injured in the line duty to the nearest full service medical facility. Additionally, a significant amount of our calls are for senior citizens where sometimes minutes make a difference. We are also faced with people who require immediate admittance, rather than being moved to a hospital in another city miles away that might not have space."

Kaliah Evans, President, Young Professionals of Mount Vernon said, “Our members work in a myriad of professions including, but not limited to accountants, attorneys, business owners, civil service workers and yes medical professionals. Losing our hospital would decrease job opportunities for emerging professionals in Mount Vernon, which ultimately would result in them seeking employment in neighboring cities to work in the healthcare industry. The City of Mount Vernon must also consider the economic impact to business owners that would immediately be affected by suck a rash decision. Let’s clearly identify the issues, implement solutions and restore this once proud facility.”

Andrea Ayers, President, CSEA Unit 9166 said, "It is shameful that this community with the eight largest population in the State of New York, and has received widespread accolades for its diverse constituents, is disregarded with the thought of removing it's full-service hospital/health care facility. Meanwhile, every other major surrounding municipality is afforded a hospital. Furthermore, it is a disservice to our community and an issue of pride that you can no longer even be born in Mount Vernon., the place of birth for countless current and previous Mount Vernonites. We must improve the hospital and restore its credibility."

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