Many are calling on officials to call off plans to close Mount Vernon Hospital as the nation continues battling the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.
Mount Vernon Mayor Shawyn Patterson-Howard said that Montefiore applied for a Certificate of Need (CON) with the New York State Department of Health seeking approval to close the hospital this year.
On Oct. 15 last year, Montefiore announced that the Department of Health will award a $41 million grant to enable Montefiore to close the only full-service hospital in Mount Vernon and open an Off-Campus Emergency Department on Sanford Boulevard.
Patterson-Howard noted that the decision was made without any input from Mount Vernon elected officials or the public.
“The health disparities in Mount Vernon are extremely high across overall indicators of health status' when compared to the rest of Westchester County,” she said. “Mount Vernon residents have significantly high mortality rates from heart disease, cancer, stroke, and chronic lower respiratory diseases .
"We are seeking the intervention, as our elected official, to save this hospital which is critical to the health and safety of the Mount Vernon community.”
The closures come as a resurgence of the COVID-19 virus in metro New York continues to be predicted. More than 2,700 Mount Vernon residents have already contracted COVID-19 and more than 1,400 have died from the virus.
In response to the closure, nurses, members of the community, and elected officials held a rally in Mount Vernon on Wednesday, July 8 protesting the closure.
"Some of our patients need dialysis, have diabetes, or need cardiac care, and are emergency cases. The ICU is essential to the community," Mount Vernon ICU nurse Kameisha Brown said. "Montefiore is ignoring us. They are just moving forward with the closure.
“We are a hospital of mostly Black nurses and they are not treating us fairly, not treating the community fairly. We need justice.”
State Sen. Alessandra Biaggi said that “now more than ever, we must invest in the resources and infrastructure our communities need to survive and prosper.
“Throughout this pandemic, the City of Mount Vernon has been one of the hardest-hit areas in Westchester County,” she said. “If COVID-19 has taught us anything, it is that our community desperately needs more access to emergency and intensive care services, not less.
"I stand firmly with the New York State Nurses Association, advocates, and my colleagues in government in calling for the full reopening and revitalization of Mount Vernon Hospital,” she added. “Now more than ever, we must invest in the resources and infrastructure our communities need to survive and prosper.”
Congressman Eliot Engel echoed his colleagues’ words, calling out the federal government for their actions taken during the pandemic.
“This pandemic is far from over,” she said. “The lack of leadership and strategic planning from the White House, coupled with reckless actions taken by governors and state leaders outside the tri-state area, have led to severe increases in COVID-19 cases across the country.
“We need all hands on deck to handle this crisis, and that includes ensuring the Mount Vernon Hospital remains open and available to the community,” Engel continued. “For months we have fought to keep the hospital open, and I remain committed to seeing to it that our doctors, nurses, and frontline health care workers in Mount Vernon are available for those in need, now and long into the future.
“If we want to end health disparities in communities of color, we need fully operational health care facilities like this one running strong.”
Click here to sign up for Daily Voice's free daily emails and news alerts.