Rally to save the Allen Hospital’s psychiatric unit and the community’s mental healthcare

Karina Aybar | saveallenpsych@gmail.com | 347-977-4785

New York, NY - On Thursday, July 11, 2019 at 6PM, community members will gather outside the Allen Hospital in Inwood to protest NewYork-Presbyterian’s plans to shut down the Allen’s inpatient psychiatric unit and expand the Daniel and Jane Och Spine Hospital. Organizations participating in the rally and press conference include the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA), the New York State Nurses Association (NYSNA), the National Alliance on Mental Illness’s NYC-Metro Chapter (NAMI-NYC), Uptown Progressive Action (UPA), Inwood Indivisible, community leaders and local services providers . Elected officials will also participate, including New York State Assemblywoman Carmen De La Rosa, New York State Senator Robert Jackson, and representatives from the office of State Senator Julia Salazar.

NewYork-Presbyterian (NYP) is one of the largest hospital systems in the world and one of the major players in the healthcare landscape of New York City, operating ten separate facilities in the metropolitan area. The Allen Hospital is NYP’s community hospital serving northern Manhattan, Riverdale, and other communities in the Bronx. Its inpatient psychiatric unit provides critical mental health services to members of these communities, many of whom are working class immigrants on Medicaid or without insurance. NYP’s plan to close the unit would further strain the already-packed psychiatric units at New York’s public hospitals and make people with mental illness even more vulnerable to arrest by the police. Alarmingly, Rikers Island is already the largest provider of psychiatric care in New York City.

NYP announced plans to close the psychiatric unit mere months after a $25 million donation from Daniel and Jane Och to expand operating room space for the Spine Hospital. NYP opened the Spine Hospital, a specialty center for elective spine surgery, inside the Allen in 2015. Now, well-off patients from around the world have their expensive procedures performed at this community hospital. By closing the psychiatric unit, NYP would eliminate services for the community, sending an unmistakable message that it prioritizes drawing revenue from a richer clientele.

In response to elected officials who expressed alarm at this decision, NYP argued that the psychiatric unit must close in order to replace and improve the Allen’s Labor and Delivery suites. The reality is more complicated. NYP plans to close the psychiatric unit, move Labor and Delivery into the psychiatric unit’s space, and  expand the Spine Hospital into Labor and Delivery’s current location. The net result of this shuffle would be an expanded spine center and the wholesale elimination of inpatient psychiatric care. We reject NYP’s false choice between caring for mothers and babies and caring for people with mental illness. Our community hospital can and should do both.

The community members, organizations, and elected officials who support Allen Psych agree that it is unjust for NYP to take up space in northern Manhattan without prioritizing the health needs of our community. We urge NYP to make a public commitment to keeping the psychiatric unit at the Allen Hospital open. If we are unable to appeal to the hospital leadership’s sense of ethics, and if they are unwilling to comply with our request, then we intend, with the elected officials who support us, to take our fight to the New York State Department of Health and the State Office of Mental Health.

For inquiries, please email saveallenpsych@gmail.com.


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