Re: Save and Transform Mount Vernon Hospital
We, the residents of New York State, wish to thank you for your leadership during the COVID-19 pandemic. Your efforts have successfully flattened the curve in the state of New York, while other states are struggling with new cases at alarming rates.
This pandemic has disproportionately impacted Black and Brown communities, which were already struggling before the pandemic with inadequate access to healthcare — communities like Mount Vernon, in Westchester County.
In the Fall of 2019, Montefiore announced that they planned to close Mount Vernon Hospital and instead, build an ambulatory care center to include a free-standing Emergency Department. Anyone needing in-patient care would be transferred to another hospital outside the Mount Vernon.
During the first surge of COVID-19, when you were calling for hospitals to increase hospital beds, Montefiore Mount Vernon Hospital had permanently closed units and transferred patients to other overcrowded hospitals. While other facilities were scrambling to acquire ventilators and other lifesaving machines, Mount Vernon shipped their ventilators to other hospitals. This response put a strain on the frontline heroes who risked their lives every day to care for those who were infected with this deadly disease, and it put the community of Mount Vernon at greater risk.
In early July, Montefiore Mount Vernon management closed the Intensive Care Unit. While Dr. Ozuah, CEO of Montefiore mentioned that it was a mistake to close the ICU, it has remained closed to date.
Montefiore Mount Vernon was awarded a $41 million transformational grant to change the face of healthcare in the city, but the changes they are planning will reduce services, increase wait times, and harm patient care. There is no doubt that Mount Vernon needs a full-service hospital and not an off campus-based emergency department. We need hospital beds in our community so our citizens are not shipped to other cities for care. We need obstetrics, pediatrics, dialysis, and other services to ensure that our citizens throughout their lives have quality healthcare.
We cannot help but think this is a clear pattern of systemic racism directed towards this majority Black and Brown community, when services are cut, patients—even those in need of intensive care—are diverted, the residency program is discontinued, the nursing school closed, and staff laid off. With one of the highest rates of COVID-19 infection during the first wave, how will Mount Vernon survive if and when there’s a resurgence?
We are calling upon you to help save and transform Montefiore Mount Vernon Hospital. Governor Cuomo: we believe your leadership and intervention could help our hospital thrive. Mount Vernon is a city on the rise, but we cannot rise if we are not healthy. Please accept our invitation to come to Mount Vernon and meet with our nurses and community leaders, so we can share with you firsthand this community’s commitment to saving and transforming Mount Vernon Hospital.
Thank you once again for your leadership through these turbulent times. We look forward to meeting with you at your earliest convenience.